'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Guest Post: Cherie Bell on Sourcing Books For Kids

KBR favourite, Cherie Bell is back and here to help you navigate the great ocean of books to find that perfect book (or books!) for your young reader. Enjoy! 

I have been asked a few times where I get book recommendations from. The short answer is the internet, specifically social media. The long answer is as follows: 

As a kid, if I read a book and really liked it, I would remember the author’s name and then every time I was in the school or public library I would scout out the section where their books should be and hunt for other books by the same author. 

I remember doing this for Encyclopaedia Brown books, Where’s Wally books, John Marsden books and, of course, Babysitter’s Club books. 

In Uni, with the advent of the internet, particularly Amazon, I would search a book I liked and then scroll through the ‘Other Books People Bought’ section to see what a good match for me might be. This was really effective; I found, read and liked many books using this method. 

I now employ similar finding techniques for the kids’ books, only using social media. If we really like a book I will connect with the author or illustrator or publisher on Instagram or Facebook. There are a few really great benefits to doing this. Firstly, they will usually post about their work, so you can see earlier books or, most importantly, upcoming books. Also, by connecting with them, you also connect to other people who like their books and they will often be recommending other books that you might like to check out. 

There are plenty of people on social media posting about books they love. They might be a teacher, a librarian, a bookseller, a home schooler or a parent. I usually find them by searching through people who like posts that I also like and then following them. 

I have now built up on my social media pages a bank of people who are contributors to or consumers of the kid’s book industry. These people are readers, and they will let you know if they really like a book, and they will often be happy to recommend other books if you ask. 

I also use groups, such as Your Kid’s Next Read, on Facebook. There are lots of well-known names in the Australian kid’s book industry who contribute regularly to the group. Once you are a member of the group you can gain access to their wonderfully thorough book lists. There are lists for girls and boys of all age groups plus more. You can also access all posts and see what recommendations might suit your child. And if all this is still not getting you results, you can put the brains trust to work by posing a question. 

You can also go to book review sites. I use Goodreads every so often, but I find it is too big. For something a bit smaller, besides KBR, you might try Brightly or (CBCA's) Reading Time which are all book review sites dedicated to kids’ books. The benefit of these sites is that the reviews usually go past a well-respected and very knowledgeable editor. The downside is that they might only review books that have been sent to them by publishers or creators, meaning you might miss some excellent books which were published independently. 

You can also follow blogs such as Megan Daley’s Children’s Books Daily, Brightly or Sarah MacKenzie’s Read Aloud Revival. Or you can listen to podcasts, such as Middle Grade Mavens, The Kidlit Club, Reading with a Chance of Tacos, and One More Page

But to really make use of all these recommendations you need a system to record the recommendations. I use Keep (I’m sure there is an Apple-sphere equivalent), and I have separate notes for different book lists: one for me, one for different kids and one for family read-aloud books. When I source a title that I want to get my hands on I record it along with the author/illustrator on the list. Then every few weeks I sit down at the computer and search the library catalogue for them. If the library doesn’t have it, I will often request they buy it. I use these lists when I’m buying gifts as well. As it turns out there are way more books out there that I want us to read than we can actually get our hands on and my lists are only ever growing.


Cherie Bell is a mother of four unholy terrors wildings, a book reviewer, an aspiring librarian, a blogger, a volunteer, a netball coach, and a novice gardener. She can be found at Booking For 4, on Facebook and Instagram.