Children’s Librarians are Experts at Recommending Books

Cuyahoga County Public Library's Great Books publicity image

As 2018 winds to a close, the season for book lists is well underway!  I love seeing what publishers and reviewers are picking for their top recommends but I also really enjoy seeing what books my librarian colleagues are the most excited about.

As Children’s Librarians, we have the expertise to make book recommendations tailored to our individual communities.  The fountain of book knowledge we’re known for can mean the most during the holidays as parents, grandparents, and other caring adults in a child’s life rely on youth staff to help find that perfect book.

At the Cuyahoga County Public Library, we have been creating a gift giving guide for families for almost 40 years.  It has expanded overtime to include recommendations for kids from birth all the up to age 18 and I have the pleasure of overseeing the book selection piece.

How do we do it?

A team of library staff seek out books published between July and the June of the following calendar year.  They look for high quality, gift worthy books, that represent the diversity of the 47 communities served by Cuyahoga County Public Library.  Suggestions are annotated on our GoodReads page with an anonymous reviewer number.  Discussions take place in August before a vote to narrow the titles down to the final 80.  From there, the marketing and graphics departments take over and create the website and promotional pieces for the Great Books for Kids list.

Digital Add for Great Books for Kids brochure

To create a book list of your own, follow these steps to get started:

  • Pick your topic and criteria.
  • Define who will be selecting the titles for your list. Just you, a team of library staff, or is it in partnership with someone like your local schools?
  • Decide when you announce your list.
  • Look at how you will distribute your list. Flyer, website, bookmark, etc?

Recommending books and creating book lists happens all year long.  It can be for Summer Reading or other topical and timely subjects.  Check these out these lists for inspiration.

Does your library create a book list?  I’d love it if you would share yours in the comments.

(Photos are courtesy of Cuyahoga County Public Library)

This post addresses the ALSC Core Competency of II. Reference and User Services and IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.

Headshot of guest blogger, Mary Schreiber
Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest blogger is Mary Schreiber. Mary is the Youth Collection Development Specialist for Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH.  She co-chairs the ALSC Public Awareness Committee and is on the 2019 ALSC ballot for Caldecott.  She’d loved to hear from you at:

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at

One comment

  1. Lisa Dennis

    Since the turn of this century, a group of Pittsburgh librarians and child development experts have been meeting annually to select a list of books perfect for sharing with the very littlest listeners, ages birth to eighteen months. The Best Books for Babies lists appear on our website ( We welcome suggestions of titles to consider–we’ll start looking at 2018 publications in a couple of weeks.

    Lisa Dennis

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