As a grown-up you want the kids in your life to read. A big challenge can be finding books they will love. To help you solve that problem I’d like to introduce you to the Junior Library Guild.
In a nutshell, Junior Library Guild “follows editorial board member Eleanor Roosevelt’s mantra to put the right book in the hands of every reader–fostering the love of reading and learning as a path to lifelong success.”
JLG provides a subscription service for schools and libraries that aims to make the best books available to kids. If you’re not a school or library you can’t subscribe to their monthly box BUT they still offer a bunch of resources on their websites to help you build a home collection of books the kids in your life will read.
Here Are Three Ways JLG Can Help You Find Great Books:
1. Subscribe to their newsletter.
When you read JLG Monthly you’ll learn about the books they are selecting (great source for great book recommendations) and you’ll also discover more about the children’s literature industry that will help you pick books for your kids. A great example is a piece they ran recently about the categories that exist in children’s literature. I’m a big fan of graphic novels for reluctant readers. I find many grownups are not familiar with the graphic novel explosion in kid lit – and that’s an example of ideas you will get from the newsletter. Pro Tip: You can read the newsletter archives on their website – without signing up!
2. Watch the Author Webcasts.
One strategy I use to help connect children with reading books is to use other media to create context for them. An example of what I mean would be to watch the movie version of a story and then read the book. Different brains work different ways – some children (and adults) really benefit from seeing a movie version first. You can use the JLG Vitual Author Visits Webcasts in the same way.
3. Follow their Content.
Read their blog. Follow their social media. My experience over the past 15 years is that ANY BOOK that bears the JLG Selection Sticker is A WINNER. Universally. Among all types of readers. I often go to the library and do nothing but grab a stack of books bearing the JLG sticker. I bring those home for the kids to read. Even when I do nothing to introduce the books I find that the kids are rooting through the bag, pulling out these books and reading them.
How to Buy
My favorite way to purchase JLG Books is to first visit the shop on their website. Select “Books” and either “New Releases” or “Backlist”. Once on the page you can choose the age range you are shopping for, from Elementary to High School. Make a list of books that catch your eye and then hop over to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite place to buy books and add the titles to your cart. Remember, only schools and libraries can purchase from JLG (you’ll see the book prices are high
How Do I know if a Book is a Good Book?
Junior Library Guild makes it their mission to follow their “editorial board member Eleanor Roosevelt’s mantra to put the right book in the hands of every reader, fostering the love of reading and learning as a path to lifelong success”.
Does this mean the books on their list will be loved by your kids? As I mentioned earlier, most of the time YES. But every kid is unique! So sometimes maybe not.
Which leads me to the number one question that parents ask me ALL the time: “How do I know if a book is a good book?”
My answer to that question is always to follow this rule: “If your child wants to read a book, then you can consider it to be a good book.”A close second to that rule is to look for the Junior Library Guild Selection sticker on the book (or find the book listed on the JLG website).
Four Books to Get You Started:
The four books shown in the photo are (top to bottom):
- Little Robot by Ben Hatke (introductory graphic novel, mostly wordless, grade Kindergarten +)
- Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton (introductory graphic novel, grade 1 +)
- The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman and Fred Fordham (graphic novel, grade 8+)
- Bolivar by Sean Rubin (graphic novel, middle grades)
- Sarah’s note: This photo was taken of a stack of graphic novels. JLG selects books from every category available in kid lit, from picture books, to non-fiction, to early readers, middle-grade novels and beyond!