Creating Great Reading Lists
How to Find Great Books & Put Together a Great Reading List
There are reference books, bibliographies, periodicals and websites to give you ideas for titles for your reading lists. Your public librarian or school librarian can help you find plenty of suggestions.
“The more the merrier.” A good reading list should offer students a large, but not overwhelming, selection of titles. Relying on only a few well-known titles such as Charlotte’s Web, A Wrinkle in Time, or The Color Purple – titles which are likely to be assigned by other teachers and other schools – may make it more difficult for your students to complete their assignments.
Be up-to-date. Try to include titles that appeal to today’s young readers. Remember, though, that the latest movie tie-ins will be hard for your students to find in their school and public libraries, since they will be in high demand.
Whenever possible, be familiar with all the books you are recommending.
Many bibliographies are arranged by theme, but not age group. Your public librarian is a literature specialist who will be happy to help you choose age/grade appropriate titles for your lists.
With series books, encourage your students to read any title in the series, for example, any “Henry and Mudge” (Rylant), “Julian” (Cameron), or “Ramona” (Cleary) book.
If possible, list recommended authors rather than specific titles to allow the broadest possible choice for your students.
Choosing by chapter or page number is not always the best way to gauge the suitability of a title.
If you can, include an introductory sentence or two, indicating the purpose of your list (e.g., if it is theme- or curriculum-related). Consider allowing the librarian to suggest other acceptable titles on the same theme, or by the same author, if your recommended titles are unavailable.
Check out the Boston Public Library’s reading lists for kids for ideas.
How Your Librarian Can Help
Your school and public librarian will appreciate being included in the planning of your reading list, since they will be filling requests for your students.
While compiling your list, check to see if each title is available in sufficient quantity in your school and public libraries. The shorter your list of titles, the more important this is. A librarian can help you with this. Make an appointment with your local librarian in advance, and bring your list with you so that you can go over it together.
Your school and public librarians will appreciate receiving advance copies of your list in order to prepare for your students’ requests. If your school librarian is to order multiple copies of the books on your list, be sure that she or he receives the list far enough in advance to do so.
Submit your list for posting on your school’s home page on the World Wide Web. Having your list on the Web will help when students or parents forget to bring their lists to the library.
One Last Tip: Attach a simple book-report form to the reading list, asking for author, title, publisher, date, main characters and major themes. This will assist your students in recalling the important information needed to successfully complete their reading reports.
When was your book published?______________________________
Name the main characters:__________________________________
Describe the story._________________________________________
Written by Children’s Librarians and Teen Librarians at the Boston Public Library, 1998.