Finding Great Books

I know from my own life experiences that reading can be an excellent way to expand your worldview. Books provide limitless opportunities for children and adults to explore windows and mirrors. As a parent, I am grateful that my kids enjoy reading. I view each new book as a gift and an opportunity to learn. However, sometimes it can be challenging to find great books with positive messages.

Luckily, there are many resources available to help navigate the endless choices of books. Today, I want to share three websites that will help you find amazing books for your children and youth.

    1. Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media “is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century.” If you visit their book review page, you can select topics such as: activism, great boy roles models, great girl roles models, and misfits and underdogs. Once you select a certain topic, the website will provide a list of books. Each suggestion includes the book title, a picture of the book cover, an age recommendation, a rating, and a synopsis of the book. For example, I selected “activism” on the topic checklist and 75 books were suggested. I used the book suggestions and sent multiple requests to our public library. I can’t wait to pick them up. I know the books have positive messages and I also know my kids will enjoy reading them. What a terrific resource!
    1. Scholastic. The mission of Scholastic is “to encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children, beginning with literacy.” The resource, “How to Choose Outstanding Multicultural Books,”  highlights books that relate to 5 cultural groups, including Native American, Latino, African American, Jewish, and Asian American. The book selections range form pre-K to 8th grade. This helpful resource includes a short introductory paragraph about each cultural group, as well as a list of 10 great children’s books, including the title, author and a brief summary. In addition, there are 3 additional sections for each group:
      • A short interview with an author of that specific cultural group.
      • A “keep in mind” section that provides some additional tips for readers.
      • A list of additional authors that represent that particular cultural group.
    1. Teaching Tolerance. The mission of Teaching Tolerance is “to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy.” They have a great resource called “What We’re Reading” that is published quarterly. Their book recommendations include the cover page, title, author, summary, and genre of each book (professional development, elementary school, middle school, or high school).  You can find their latest book recommendations here. If you want to see more of their book recommendations, you can type “What We’re Reading” in the search box and you’ll find an archived list of their recommendations.

I hope the next time you and your family head to the library or bookstore, you will utilize these resources to find great multicultural books. Enjoy!

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