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Learn how to Judge a Book by its Cover

Updated: 3 days ago

This blog post is dedicated to all my students who enjoy reading, being creative, writing and exploring how language can engage and enthral readers. The foundation of any good piece of writing is found in books! It's a simple equation: Reading + Imagination = Good writing. But how does one pick the right books that will improve language and vocabulary? KidsMustRead has provided us with some useful tips. Thanks Priya Iyer.

Top Tips on How to Choose a Good Book for Your Child

I love visiting bookstores and am always on the lookout for good children’s books. Here are my top tips on what to look for on the front and back cover of a book to select a winner for your child:

Tip 1

Starred Reviews and non-starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal (SLJ), Booklist, and other reviewing agencies

'Professionals' such as bookstore owners, librarians, or magazine reviewers refer to these journals when deciding whether to buy or review a book. Starred reviews for books from these journals are the equivalent of Michelin stars for restaurants; getting a non-starred positive review from one of these journals is indicative of a great book while a starred review is an even higher recognition.

Tip 2

Book Awards

Book awards are an indication of a good book. While individual countries have their own children’s book awards, the Newbery Medal and Horn Book Award conferred in the USA, and the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals awarded in the UK, are the best known and most prestigious children's book awards.

Tip 3

Reviews and Praise from Publications

including the New York Times, The Independent, Sunday Times and The Guardian are good sources when looking to choose a book.. These prestigious publications are very picky about the books they choose to review. Hence a positive review is another indication of a must-read.

Tip 4

Book Specific Praise vs Generic Praise for the Author

It’s a good sign if the book on hand gets specific praise for the plot, narrative, or writing style. If however, the author is praised in ‘general’ terms, it might be that while the author is great, the book on hand may not necessarily be one of their best books.

Tip 5

Praise from another author

If you see that your favourite author has written a blurb in praise of the book on hand, that’s creditable, but please be aware that it could be a friend offering support to a fellow author. A good idea would be to pay attention to what the author has written - are they praising the book specifically or are they praising the author in generic terms? If it's the former, then its more probable that the book is good.

Tip 6

Choosing an age-appropriate book

for your child is the other critical criteria when selecting a book. As a ballpark, the midpoint of the ‘suggested reading age’ on the back of the book is typically the right age at which the book should be read. For example, if the age suggestion is ‘8-12 years’, you can safely estimate that kids aged 12 and 11 years can definitely read the book, and kids aged 9 and 10 years can probably read the book, while a child aged 8 years can read the book if they are avid readers. The second important indicator of age appropriateness is the age of the protagonist of the book - rare is the book where the age of the main character does not match the age of the intended audience, add or subtract a year.


To be 100% sure about the best books for your child, do generate a list of curated books from the search engine on that matches your child’s age, reading level, and interests.. Happy reading!

Priya Iyer

Founder of KidsMustRead.Com

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