- Determine the age level of your reader. Age level may or may not correspond to reading level. For example, my eight-year-old reads at about a 6th or 7th grade level, but has the maturity level of a 10 or 11 year old. Although she often wants to read some of the teen books, they really don’t hold her attention (and sometimes aren’t appropriate). I try to keep her in the more advanced children’s chapter books. Choose books for the appropriate maturity level and the interest will be greater.
- What interests your reader? If a reader is mostly interested in realistic stories, hand her Harry Potter and you’ve lost her. On the other hand, if your reader craves fast-paced adventure, Ramona Quimby books will be a disaster. Think about the books or movies that hold your reader’s attention and choose from those interest categories. I’ve divided the book lists into different areas of interest and included summaries of the types of books included in those lists. Those list groupings should lead to good choices.
- If you find a good fit, choose more by that author. This approach doesn’t always work, but usually if I like one book by an author, I will like others. I know for good historical fiction I can count on Scott O’Dell or Elizabeth George Speare. Lloyd Alexander and Rick Riordon consistently provide good fantasy with great characterization. Eoin Colfer provides great adventure and consistently makes me laugh. It isn’t a crime to read all the books written by an author.
- Check for others in the series. The current trend for authors of children’s and teen fiction is to write in series. Why sell one book when you can sell five? In most cases on this site I just review the first book in a series, but I make a note if there are other books and if they would be of interest.
- Try something new. It may need to be gradual, but change is always good. If your reader likes a certain author, try other books that I list in the same area of interest. Kids are good at finding the popular books, but I’ve tried to include great books that might not be so familiar. Once you find success that way, try a new area of interest. If you are willing to branch out, you will always have something to read.
- Share with others. If you find something you like, use the rating and comments links beneath each book review to let others know your thoughts. Also, use the Facebook, Google+ and Twitter links to share with your friends.
Finally, if there’s a book you’re curious about that’s not listed here, let me know!