Finding That Just Right Book

November 11, 2008 1 min read

With the declining daylight hours and cooler weather hitting the Mid-Atlantic, it is a lot easier for me to get my kids to sit down with a book in the afternoons and evenings. What hasn’t been so easy is finding the books that will suck them in and keep them engaged beyond the obligatory 20- to 30- minute reading time each day.

I’ve searched library stacks and online education sites for recommendations, which have sometimes worked out well. My daughter, a 5th grader, has found a few that kept her up reading past bedtime, or left her sitting in the car to finish just one more chapter of a book she started at the beginning of a long ride. It’s been harder to find that kind of hook for my son, a 3rd grader. Or I should say, it’s harder to find books he likes that don’t feature Spiderman or Batman or Pokemon. I’m all for kids reading comic books and graphic novels, but would like them to balance out their book list with meatier tomes.

So I was glad to come across the annual Teachers’ Choices list from the International Reading Association that offers book ideas for the primary, intermediate, and advanced reading levels. There’s a good variety of fiction and nonfiction, picture and chapter books, as well as a diversity of subjects, characters, and eras.

I wish there was a bit more detail about which ages/grade levels are most appropriate for each book, but I realize there is so much variation among students that it is difficult to generalize on such a list.

I know there are other book lists out there, for children, youths, and adults. Feel free to share your favorite sources, as well as tips for finding those books that will send the kids under the covers with a flashlight way past bedtime.

Update: Here are a few additional lists, thanks to suggestions from readers. (You can read their full descriptions in COMMENTS to this item.)

American Library Association list of Young Adult titles

The Center for Teaching and Learning’s recommendations for K-8 and high school reading.

International Reading Association’s Children’s Choices and Young Adults’ Choices.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.