Choosing and Using Kids’ Books

Mother reading books about polar bears to two kids
Delight, educate, and inspire the kids you care about with children's books! Below are ideas on how to build a great home library, tips on how to choose books for your child, links to themed booklists, and more.

Use the nifty Book Finder tool on Reading Rockets to create a custom booklist.

What you'll find here:

Your Home Library

Selecting Books for Your Child: Finding 'Just Right' Books

How can parents help their children find books that are not "too hard" and not "too easy" but instead are "just right"? Here's some advice.
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Creating a Home Library

Starting a home library for your child shows him/her how important books are. Having books of his/her own in a special place boosts the chance that your child will want to read even more. Here are some ideas for creating your own home library. Download PDFs:

A Fresh Look at Your Home Library

Having interesting things to read at home is a great way to keep kids motivated. Below are a few questions to ask yourself about your home library. Some simple changes on your part can help you create an amazing home library, and help your child develop an early love of reading! Download PDFs:

Book Swap for Kids

Libraries and bookstores are great options for building a home library. Another great resource for books is a book swap. Consider organizing one for your neighborhood or block. It can be a simple afternoon undertaking, or with more time and effort, a fun event that will become an annual tradition! Here are some suggestions for organizing a book swap for kids. Download PDFs:

The Importance of Reading Widely

Sharing lots of different kinds, or genres, of books with your child exposes him to different words, different kinds of images, and whole new worlds. This tip sheet suggests some genres to try with your young reader that complement 'traditional' fiction. Some are suggestions for read alouds, while others may be ones your child can read on his own. Download PDFs:

Magazines for Kids

Is there anything more fun than getting mail? Get kids interested in reading with a subscription to one of these magazines recommended just for kids ages 0-9. Pictures, short stories, and activities open the door for even the most reluctant readers. Magazines can be a way for kids to relax with a good story on their own time — at home, after school, or in the car. And it gives them something to look forward to in the mailbox! Download PDFs:

Nonfiction for kids

Getting the Most Out of Nonfiction Reading Time

Nonfiction books give kids a chance to learn new concepts and vocabulary, as well as broaden their view of the world. Learn how to take a "book walk" with a new nonfiction book and how to model active reading. Download PDFs:

How to Read Nonfiction Text

Many children love to read about science and nature as well as real people, places, and events. Nonfiction books present information in engaging and interesting ways. Help kids learn to navigate all the parts of a nonfiction book — from the table of contents to the diagrams, captions, glossary, and index. Download PDFs:

Finding Great Nonfiction Books

Of course, Start with a Book has lots of great nonfiction titles — just browse our themed lists! Public and school librarians are a great resource for helping identify high-quality nonfiction books, for any interest or reading level. There are also many excellent online resources. Here are a few of our favorites:

Nonfiction Books About Some of Washington DC’s Most Interesting Places

Whether you are visiting DC for the first time or a native Washingtonian, learn more about the people and events that connect with places in our nation's capital — from the White House to the Air and Space Museum to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and all around DC. Take a look at these great nonfiction books selected by Edith Ching, a children's literature specialist.
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High/low books

High interest/low reading level books can motivate struggling readers by providing books on topics that their peers are reading, but targeted toward their reading level. High/low books can help build reading fluency, vocabulary, background knowledge and interest in reading. Below you'll find recommended high/low books, as well as links to publishers who offer a wide range of titles. Read our introductory article, High/Low Books for Children.

Hooking Struggling Readers: Using Books They Can and Want to Read

One of the keys to helping struggling readers is to provide them with books that they can and want to read. Fiction for struggling readers must have realistic characters, readable and convincing text, and a sense of the readers' interests and needs. Non-fiction books, newspapers, magazines, even comic books can hook students on reading.
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High/Low Booklists

High/Low Book Publishers and Distributors

Audiobooks and e-books


Audiobooks allow children who struggle with reading to enjoy a book that's at their interest level, but that might be above their reading level. They also provide good examples of fluent, expressive reading and strengthen listening skills.


Quality e-books can enhance reading fluency and comprehension through special features such as built-in dictionaries and "read to me" features that model correct pronunciation and expressive reading. Interactive e-books can sometimes be distracting for kids — pulling them away from the story narrative — so it's important for adults to choose e-book titles carefully and read the books together with kids, using best practices for active readalouds.


Book Finder

Search through more than 5,000 books on Reading Rockets to create a custom booklist. Filter by author, illustrator, age, reading level, genre, format, topic, and country or region.
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Reading Rockets Themed Booklists

Sometimes it just takes one wonderful book to turn a kid into a reader. Tap into what interests your child. Browse these themed booklists selected by Maria Salvadore, our children's literature expert. Everything from graphic novels to poetry to modern folktales.
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Great Read Alouds for Kids: Babies to Grade 3

It’s a busy life filled with lots of things to do and even more distractions. But there’s one pursuit that can be fun for everyone involved, plus it has benefits that will have a lifelong impact. All that’s needed is a comfy place, an adult, one child or more, and a good book to share.
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Our Favorite Audiobooks

We've gathered up dozens of terrific audiobooks, perfect for car trips, lazy summer afternoons, or any time a good story is in order. You'll connect with some familiar friends — Ramona, Cam Jansen, Alvin Ho, and Nate the Great — plus some new characters with adventures to share. Poetry, folktales, classics, and more in this carefully selected list for kids 3–12 years old. Audio books are also ideal for sharing, even when there are kids of many ages in one group. It's a great way to enjoy a good story and practice listening skills.
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Rediscover Your Public Library

Libraries are great resources for families with young children; you can find books, entertainment, educational and cultural enrichment, literacy tips, and other valuable information. In this article, we've put together a list of the top 9 reasons to visit your public library. Download PDFs:

Bilingual Books

Bilingual books can help children learn new words in their non-native language — either by seeing the Spanish and English words side-by-side or by guessing word meaning through context. Bilingual books are a wonderful addition to a child's bookshelf — offering a window or mirror into cultural awareness and pride. Here, you'll find a collection of books with both English and Spanish text, as well as video interviews with bilingual children's authors.
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