Follow the Trail: A guide to great kid books

Can I admit something? I used not like reading books to my kids. I was tired of reading the same mediocre picture books over and over. I wanted to read books with beautiful artwork; books with lyrical, memorable words; books with great inspirational messages. Finding these amazing kids' books became my new job.

An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing. - Charlotte Mason

Childhood is too short to waste time reading fluff. Too often when I'm browsing the library, I see shelves of movie-to-book stories, characters who are poor role models, or silly stories with poor drawings. Where are the amazing kids' books that teach wonderful morals or behaviors or have artwork that can inspire my own children to pull out the paints?

Where do I find great kid books?

  1. Know what kind of book to look for. We started by making a list of authors and illustrators we loved. We then checked out everything by those people. That gave us a good start to identifying the types of books we loved - books with beautiful writing (almost poetic) and realistic, gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations.
  2. Seek recommendations from bloggers you trust. This was when I found blogger Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival. She's a homeschooling mom who runs a very popular podcast where she interviews authors and offers tips to cultivate a culture of reading in your family. Yes, please!

    1. Read aloud revival - Podcast and membership forum
    2. Read aloud resources - Facebook group
    3. Modern Mrs. Darcy - Booklists
  3. Find trusted publishers. I noticed that many books we read were from a couple of publishers. They had great consistency in publishing quality literature. So, we sought out more books they published. I can definitely recommend Beautiful Feet Books.

Organizing your booklists

I highly recommend GoodReads as the best way to organize the books you want to read and those you've already read or own.
I tried keeping paper lists of books, either in a notebook or on scraps of paper in my wallet, but somehow never had them handy when I found myself unexpectedly in a bookstore or library. I ended up adding nearly every book we own into Goodreads and I keep a running list of book I want to read and books I want to read with the kids.
Stay tuned for a future post that goes into much more detail about how I organize Goodreads.