This is a list of resources that may be helpful to people who are looking for specific books that may not be listed here. Some are specifically geared to people who are trying to find books and others are lists, catalogues, or databases of books with descriptions and the options to search for specific ones. If anyone knows of a resource that I haven’t included yet, let me know, and I’ll add it! As always, this is a work in progress.
Sometimes, you can find what you’re looking for just by doing a keyword search and reading the product descriptions. The downside is that not every book has a product description or a review written in enough detail to let you know whether it’s the one you’re thinking of or not. However, there are places where you can ask questions about products or ask someone who has placed a review for more details.
People can give reviews and ratings for books they have read (both adults and children), and many of them have descriptions of the plots. You can search for an individual book or browse by category. In many cases, there are pages which list books in a series, and some people have made lists of books in a particular category, such as children’s books from specific decades. The downside is that some older books or lesser-known ones may not have descriptions because no one has entered one yet.
This site has descriptions for adult, young adult, and children’s books. It’s an extensive collection with a search feature to help you locate specific books under various categories and links to places where you can buy the books.
Other People’s Blogs
There are many blogs dedicated to children’s literature! These are some that I particularly liked.
This blog hasn’t be active since 2017, but it has some nice entries about vintage books that I don’t have and haven’t read.
The owner of this blog works in the English Department at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, specializing in Children’s Literature and Early Canadian Literature. Her blog is organized alphabetically with special attention to age and reading level and with a few special articles about teaching. It has more modern ones than I typically include, but also some older ones.
Books on Specific Topics
If you’re looking for a very specific kind of book, there may be a site already dedicated to that topic. For books from a specific decade, see the resources listed under each decade in the Books By Decade section. You can find lists of books on different themes and topics that are described on this site under the Book Lists section. Some of my special topics lists also have links to additional resources.
Because my site is geared specifically for nostalgic books that are at least 10 years old, it’s going to be awhile before any of these end up on this site. The article was written in 2015. If the book you’re looking for is a relatively recent mystery, you might try here.
It is exactly what it sounds like! The goal, as explained on the site, is to find and catalogue 1000 books with black girls as main characters. As of this writing, it is still a work in progress. However, if you are looking for a book with a black girl as a main character, this is the place to go! They also take suggestions and donations.
I like the list, but it does have two issues when I last looked at it: No book descriptions and authors are sorted by first name, not last. They could get around this problem by adding two extra fields to their form, one for the description and one to separate the author’s first name and last name. (I’d put middle names or initials in the same field as the first name, where they appear because not all authors have them, and I don’t think it’s necessary to add a special field for that.) As an alternative, they could just change the entered author’s names so that the last name comes first. I think that would make the list more efficient because books are normally sorted by the author’s last name in libraries. On the plus side, the reading level of each book is also noted, which is helpful.
This is for books of the Choose Your Own Adventure variety, where readers make the choices about what characters in the story should do and the endings differ depending on the choices that the readers make. The site lists different series and individual books within series.
This is the best list of Little Golden Books I’ve seen so far. It’s in alphabetical order, and if you click on individual titles, there are descriptions and cover pictures. If you can’t find a Golden Book you’re looking for here, you might also consider looking at printed books. There are guides to Golden Books written for collectors.
As the title suggests, most of the series described at this site are girls’ series, but there are some series aimed at boys as well. They are all “vintage” books (roughly mid-20th century and earlier), and there are many Stratemeyer series here. There is also a blog connected with this site.
The Stratemeyer Syndicate produced many children’s series over the course of decades, including some that people might not know were Stratemeyer books. If what you’re looking for was an adventure or mystery story that was part of a series, especially if it might have been published prior to 1980, you might consider if it could have been one of these.
Read Books Online
This is mainly for books old enough to be in the public domain, but there are some places where you can even read non-public domain books.
“A non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.” It’s free to use, but it requires you to sign up for an account. It has more than just public domain books. Various organizations, such as libraries and book-selling companies, have donated scanned copies of many books and also various audio recordings, some software (such as old computer games), and other materials. There is even help for users with print disabilities. Patrons may borrow up to 5 items at a time, and books can be borrowed for up to 14 days, with the option to renew. When your time is up, the book simply disappears from your list of loans, so there are no late fees. You can also turn in books early if you’re done with them and want to get something else. Patrons can also place holds on books which are currently being loaned.
Provides free e-books of books that are in the public domain. Some of the older vintage series described on my site are here. There is no need to sign up for an account. E-books are available in multiple formats.
This is a collection of public domain works, especially those about religion and folklore. Most of it isn’t for children, but some of the folktales and fairy tales overlap with children’s literature. For example, they have a complete collection of the Lang Fairy Books (also known as the Color Fairy Books because of the titles). There is no need to sign up for an account, you can simply read the texts in the page.
An online collection of public domain works by the University of South Florida. The description on the main page states:
“Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format. An abstract, citation, playing time, and word count are given for each of the passages. Many of the passages also have a related reading strategy identified. Each reading passage can also be downloaded as a PDF and printed for use as a read-along or as supplemental reading material for your classroom. “
The collection contains more than children’s literature and is free for the public to use. You can listen to the audio version of a book while reading the text version of a book in your browser at the same time. You can search for books by author, title, genre (broad categories such as mystery, adventure, fantasy, and horror), collection (shows specific topics such as African-American Literature, The Princess Collection for stories about princesses, or specific series such as the Oz books or the Lang Fairy Books), or reading difficulty according to the Flesch-Kincaid grade level system.
Searching Tips and Help
Some of these are ones I’ve already listed at the bottom of the main blog page.
An online forum where people make inquiries for specific books, using details that they remember.
You can look for a book through Google Books. It will look for the keywords you provide in book descriptions and return suggestions.
A guide with search tips and additional resources.
A place where you can post inquiries for books you’re looking for along with some search tips.
For a small fee, you can submit a description of a book you’re looking for to see if the bookstore employees or other readers of their blog recognize it and can tell you the title. For free, you can read descriptions that others have sent in to see if there’s something that you recognize.
Offers suggestions for search strategies and additional resources.
Resources for Teachers
These sites are specifically geared to help teachers to select books and plan activities.
General Advice for Books and Discussions
I’ve been making my own page of books that I think would be good for class discussions and activities, but I’m not a teacher, just a book enthusiast, so I’ve included information from sites by professional teachers. My list of Books for Class Discussions deliberately ignores some of the more popular and typical books that are often read in school, like Sarah, Plain and Tall and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, not because I don’t like them (I really do), but because other people have already covered those books very well, most teachers already know them and use them, and there are plenty of existing lesson plans based around them. I wanted to bring up some lesser-known books for a change of pace.
This is a guide from We Are Teachers to help teacher to prepare for and lead class book discussions.
It has a link to a list of 101 Chapter Books to Read (or Hear) Before You Grow Up to help teachers with selections of books to read, but I quibble with parts of the list because it doesn’t make an distinctions for age level and the person who assembled the list included many generally well-known titles without actually reading the books. The suggestions aren’t bad, but I think that knowing whether or not to introduce them to a class involves more in-depth knowledge of the books and a sense of their age-appropriateness. Some books can be really great and have fascinating themes, but if they’re too complicated for the kids to understand at their age and are unrelatable, they’re not going to be much help. On the one hand, I felt like some of the suggestions were kind of generic award-winners that weren’t really suggested for reasons other than that, but on the other, the writer does bring up a few lesser-known titles that I can tell were recommended because the writer actually knows them and loves them. Those are the suggestions that I think are the most worth taking, especially for kids who are old enough to understand them.
Students with Disabilities
A list of books for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, spanning a range of ages. These are books to read or have read to them. Some are about the subject of being deaf or hard of hearing itself, but not all.
Good for demonstrating the use of critical thinking skills.
Has descriptions of recommended mystery books of all levels, fiction and nonfiction (some of them are also covered on this site) plus suggestions for related activities.
Some of these articles do not provide a list of suggested books, but I have my own list of Historical Fiction by Period (which also has some sections of additional resources). I’m going to update my list with associated non-fiction from each period, and my reviews have notes about related subjects and activities.
Reasons to use historical fiction in the classroom.
Thoughts about supplementing lessons with historical fiction.
Children’s historical fiction and non-fiction, listed by topic. These lists were created by teachers.
A list of books with characters who have disabilities of various kinds. They are not specifically geared to students with disabilities, but they offer insight into disabilities of different kinds, how they would have been viewed in different time periods, and how people may have coped with them in the past.
Disabilities are a natural part of the human condition and have existed all throughout human history. Human beings are imperfect and have limits, and some have conditions that impose more limits or challenges than others. We know that human beings of the past were sometimes blind or deaf, were unable to walk unaided, or suffered from various health conditions. Over time, we have come to understand many of these conditions better and have developed new ways to handle them, but acknowledging that disabilities and imperfections are timeless and that the humans of the past were just as human as the humans of the present may give students perspective and a greater sense of empathy.
Books and Movies
You can browse this list by age group.
This is a book on Internet Archive. You would need an account on Internet Archive to borrow and read the book, but accounts on Internet Archive are completely free and easy to set up. You can read the basic description and contents list without an account. The movies described in the book are popular classics and many of them are based on books, which is why I mention the book here. Each movie in the book has a brief description and notes about themes for classroom discussions and activities. None of the sections are very long because about half the space is dedicated to leaving room for teachers to make their own notes in the book. Part of the introduction to the book is out of date because the book is from the 1990s and talks about VHS cassettes, but there are some helpful tips for previewing a movie and planning lessons and discussions around it.
History of Children’s Literature
An article about the earliest children’s literature.
I’ve heard these rumors before about children’s authors who supposedly didn’t like children at all. As this article points out, some of those rumors were based on the behavior of some of the children in the authors’ stories, which doesn’t necessarily reflect how they felt about children in general, and some of the rumors are based on the fact that some children’s authors never actually had children themselves. The authors who never had children may have been childless more for medical reasons than a distaste for children. Also, people believed that some children’s authors didn’t enjoy writing for children because the authors wanted to be known for their adult books as well, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t enjoy writing for children sometimes.
The article is accompanied by a podcast about feminist role models in children’s literature. It’s not bad, and I agree with many of their points, but the part about Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll could use some expansion. They note that Lewis Carroll has become something of a controversial figure in children’s literature with accusations of inappropriate feelings toward young girls, but the podcast is correct to say that the accusations are more modern in nature and have to do with his photography hobby, where he photographed young girls, sometime in fancy dress costumes and sometimes in nightgowns or states of undress. Photographing children in this manner wasn’t unusual for his time period, and the children’s parents had given their permission. There is a lot more detail to unpack about that situation and his relationship with the real-life Alice and her family, but I’m saving that for when I cover Lewis Carroll’s books. (This documentary has more details.) I would like to mention something that I wish the podcast had explained but didn’t: part of the reason why the Alice books are so weird and surreal is that much of what happens in them is actually parody of popular pieces of children’s literature and rhymes from that period (often didactic rhymes to emphasize educational lessons and virtues for children). Much of it is lost on modern audiences because they don’t know the original references, as the original readers would have. Also, Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson) was actually a mathematician, and the books also contain puzzles and brain teasers. The women in this podcast talk about the significance of Alice wanting to become a queen and whether or not that’s a good goal, but they’re missing the fact that Through the Looking Glass is actually based on a real chess game. Alice becomes a queen because that is something that can happen in a real game of chess when a pawn reaches the opposite side of the board.
Thoughts About Children’s Literature
Our favorite books when we were young don’t lose their appeal as we get older. In fact, many adults still love to read good children’s books. Why? I talk about it somewhat in my About page, but these people have some inspiring thoughts about children’s literature.
Tips About Reading to Children
When you read vintage children’s books, which can be fun and exciting, you do sometimes run into the problem of books using racial terms or stereotypes which are no longer acceptable in modern society. So are these books really that bad, and if so, what do you do about it? This article takes a look at the degrees of racial issues in older books and how to talk to children about issues that they encounter in stories.
One of the issues that I think is important is remembering that books, like people, have both good sides and bad sides. Some are more likeable or more helpful than others, but to really know them as whole people, you have to look at their individual points, both good and bad. For example, it’s okay to say that you liked a story for being exciting but that you didn’t like the way that some of the characters talked or acted. You can have mixed feelings about books and fictional characters, just like you can about real people (ex. “He’s fun to be with but kind of a flake” or “She’s a hard worker but not easy to get along with”). The good points don’t make the bad points less bad, and the bad points don’t make the good points less good, but it’s important to acknowledge that both exist. How much there are of each tells you whether you want to read the book again, kind of like how a person’s good and bad traits tell you whether you want to hang out with them or work with them again. I think that acknowledging those mixed feelings and seeing that it’s okay to have them can help children gain wisdom, maturity, and greater decision-making skills. Some people are different from others, but that’s okay. Some people don’t behave as well as others, but we can handle that. In the end, we make up our own minds about who we will be and how we will behave.