Who I Am

Hi!  I'm Sarah.  I'm a former librarian and mother of three -- a teen daughter, a preschool-aged son, and a newborn boy.  My family and I live in Washington State where, despite a lot of rainy weather, we love to play outdoors... and read.  :)

I earned my Master's in Library and Information Science in 2011 and started work as a teen librarian right after graduation.  I tell everyone that being a teen services librarian is the best job in the world!  You get to pick out awesome books, spend time with passionate, idealistic youth, and plan fun community events (we even played laser tag after hours once).  I was a teen librarian for four years, then in 2015, due to our growing family and a work schedule change, I found it financially necessary to leave my job (props to all the moms [and dads] either working or staying at home -- the juggle of childcare expenses, career matters, and household responsibilities can be quite a challenge).

I soon discovered that one of the things I missed the most about working at the library was finding out about amazing books.  At one point, I found myself standing in front of the shelves at our local library in a kind of trance, suddenly not knowing what to pick up for my kids.  I checked to see if favorite authors had anything new.  That helped a little.  At home I looked online for suggestions and mostly found lists of 100 all-time greats.  Some of the books matched my kids' ages, abilities and interests, but we read through those pretty quickly.  Finally, I decided to track down the selection tools that were available to me as a librarian.  That way I could keep on top of the amazing books that are always being published.  Then I started to wonder if other parents sometimes felt stuck too, not really sure what to pick out for their kids... so I went to work on this website.

I have a huge love of kids' books and I hope this site will give you ideas for books to share with your children.  I wish you joy in experiencing stories that your child will likely remember for his or her whole life.

To learn more about how the books are chosen click here.

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These are my kiddos -- Sophia and Oliver.  It poured down rain later that day!

Me and my fellas hiking in Oregon. :D

 

About the Books

First, I should say that I don't get to read all of these books.  I wish I could, but that would take several more lifetimes than I've got.  :)   Instead, I studied book selection while earning a Master's in Library and Information Science.  My youth services studies covered everything from board books for babies to picture books to early readers through chapter books, tween and teen books.  The four years I spent as a librarian provided great insight into what kind of books actually get kids reading.  I choose the books in these lists using the same guiding principles and selection tools that I used as a librarian.

The books listed here will mostly be published within the last six months to a year.  Instead of a collection of all-time greats, this site will introduce you to fresh, amazing new books.  The classics are fantastic of course, and some are even truly timeless (I'm certain The Very Hungry Caterpillar will always delight little ones).  Still, there are so many phenomenal books coming out all the time.  Often these newer books will resonate with young readers more powerfully than older books.

Many of the books on this site will have starred reviews from trusted library journals such as Booklist and School Library Journal.  Most of the books will also have proven to be popular with readers. The books on this site are generally both critically acclaimed and popular, but some will lean more towards critical raves or wildly popular.

 

You might wonder why the ages and grades overlap somewhat in the lists and book categories.  This is because each reader is unique.  My daughter, for example, was what librarians call a "reluctant reader."  Labels aside, she just did not like reading and so she read early readers well into third grade.  An eager reader at that age might have started chapter books a year before.  

Also, subject matter that's appropriate for some kids might be less fitting for others regardless of reading ability.  For example, The Hunger Games (in case you haven't read it -- it's an awesome book and yet pretty darned violent) has been scored an easier read than Black Beauty.

You know your kiddos best, but hopefully the age groupings will act as a helpful guide for you. 

    

Certain types of books never seem to get a lot of attention from reviewers or they're not popular with a broad audience, but they're still excellent.  For the people that these books speak to, they're very important.  You'll find special lists on this site that aim to balance out the main selections.

If you're interested in a particular subject, genre or type of book, send me an email.  I'd be happy to make a list of books that suit your needs.

 

As a rural librarian, I was allotted a pretty small book budget.  I could only buy ten books a month for the teens I worked with.  Having that tight budget forced me to narrow down my selections to only the most outstanding recent book releases.  

The plan for this site was to list ten books a month for each age group.  Since it seems like families are usually pretty busy (mine included), I hoped to share really exceptional books that help make reading time magical.  

Through experience researching books for this site, I discovered that some age groups have fewer than ten great books published each month -- baby and toddler books for example.  Some age groups often have an abundance of exceptional new books -- picture books for preschoolers for instance.  Our monthly lists include outstanding new releases for all age groups, aaannnd the actual number is somewhere between two and fifteen.  laugh

 

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Hello there!

Hi!  I'm Sarah.  I'm a former librarian and mother of three -- a teen daughter, a preschool-aged son, and a newborn boy.  We love to play outdoors... and read.  :)

This site is all about discovering great books to share with kids and teens. ...Read more

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