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How to Find the Perfect Book for Every Kid Even the Picky Ones

Adapted from an article by Ruth Manna, Instructor, May/June 2008. Used with permission.

There's an art to matching children and books that you develop over time. As moderator of the New Teacher Helpline at Ruth Manna is happy to share her experience to help teachers generate booklists and assist them as they match students with books.

In addition, here are several online tools that can help all of us choose just-right books for the young readers in our lives. But remember ultimately to rely on your intuition and judgment. There's no Web site as effective as a thoughtful teacher or parent who knows his or her children. Trust yourself to suggest just-right books to meet your children’s unique needs. Your librarian (Mrs. Sellen ☺) and your child’s teachers can be great resources too. Good luck!

FOR A LEXILE LEVEL CHEAT SHEET... Some teachers calculate a book's level of difficulty with a precise system of lexiles, instead of grade. On this free lexile database you can search by lexile range, author, and title.

FOR MULTICULTURAL BOOKS... IDCL is an online library whose mission is to make multicultural literature accessible to children all over the world. It has children's books in Spanish, Chinese, Mongolian, and Arabic, among other languages. Recent immigrants can't always bring books in their native language, and parents may not know their culture's stories, so some children grow up without their native stories written in their first language. IDCL is designed to remedy that problem. This is a great site for teachers of ESL students.

FOR BOOKLISTS BY THEME... The Boston Public Library site is a wonderful resource with booklists covering everything from dragons and trains to crafts and the environment. There is a list of online magazines as well as links to author and illustrator pages. You can do a quick or advanced search.

FOR CUSTOM READING LISTS... Scholastic's Book Wizard is a new, free service with several possibilities for the classroom. For example, you can print colorful, annotated bibliographies for parents and students with books you have carefully selected online. You can also find a book similar to, say, Lemony Snicket, but on a higher or lower reading level. Also, with the "Book Alike" feature, it's easy to select a variety of leveled books on a given topic.