Blogger Emily Mroczek-Bayci

Best Books of the Year: Gotta Recommend Them All

The end of the year is when all the various “best of,” lists come out and as a librarian it is overwhelming to keep up with everything. I find that my holds list gets obnoxiously long as I frantically try to read ALL THE BOOKS I missed.

I like looking at various library’s “best of” lists like Chicago Public Library’s “Kids Best of the Best Books,” or Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids

I prefer to refer my family, friends and patrons to library or review journal recommended lists (like School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2021) I find these can be helpful to introduce new titles for people who might revert to their childhood favorites or another series title. I also love to see what wins Mock competitions at various libraries. Another fun favorite to look at is Betsy Bird’s 31 Days of Lists where she features a different topic every day from Board Books to Translated Titles to Unconventional Picture Books and beyond.

The question about all these lists though is… how to you shuffle through reading them all? And how do you recommend the “Best Books” to your patrons without overwhelming them? I’ve listed a few ideas below and would love to hear about what you are doing at your library.

  • 30 Books in 30 Minutes: Gift Giving Edition I recently was part of a Zoom program where we highlighted 30 picture books in 30 minutes to give people ideas of what to purchase for the holidays. This was fast-paced and fun and attendees seemed excited to check out new books.
  • One library I substitute at creates “best of” lists for summer reading. It features the best books of the year in different age categories, but doesn’t come out until May to make sure additional copies are ordered and all copies are included.
  • Mock programs. I really like the idea of doing Mock Newbery, Caldecott, Geisel, CSK etc. etc. programs with customers. However it can be difficult to get attendance and books available for patrons to read all of the titles.
  • Podcasts. I see more and more libraries doing fun podcasts, but that is not something I’ve had much experience with. A fun topic could be a 30 in 30 podcast or something of the same.
  • Some of my friends make Facebook posts, asking for friends interests and then specifically recommending titles for their kids. This seems like a good idea for a library to do readers advisory on social media.

How do you and your library recommend the best books of the year? Please let us know in the comments!

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