Why Recommending Books for Children is Hard...and Why I Love It


Recommending books for children is something I love doing and nothing gives me greater joy than a parent telling me that their child has become a reader because they found some of the book suggestions interesting. 

Recommending books for children is a task that requires a high level of involvement with the intended audience  – unlike adults who are at a similar reading level, in the case of children, the ability to read fluently changes from child to child, even in the same age group. This is especially true for primary school children. Parents with more than one child will know what I mean – their second child seldom follows the same path to reading as their older sibling if one were to compare the age at which they start reading, their reading levels at a particular age, and their interests. Even twins show a marked difference in their reading preferences. 

When someone would ask me for a book recommendation for their child, I would ask them for their child’s age, their reading level (I’d gauge this by asking them for book titles their child could read comfortably), and the child’s interest. If this was a passing conversation, I would rely on memory and if I was lucky enough to have some time, I’d go to the list of books I’d read and figure out if I could pick and choose a few books that the child could enjoy. But I faced a problem: parents felt diffident about constantly asking for book recommendations once their child had gone through one set of suggestions. 

I began toying with the idea of ‘What if there was a way that I could regularly share my book recommendations with parents? Or better still, how could I empower them to generate a book list based on age, reading level, and the interest of their child?’. I decided to build a custom-made search engine that would generate a list of books when age, reading level, and interest were inputted. I ran smack into a wall. Age and interest are easy enough to define but defining the reading level of a child had me truly stumped. My website designer was clear that the reading level had to be non-subjective and measurable. After a considerable number of iterations, I finally hit upon a non-subjective way of measuring the reading level – by quantifying the number of pages a child could read comfortably. 

So there you have it – the Kids Must Read Search Engine that I hope will help every child find books that suit their age, interests, and most importantly, reading level. This is a dynamic book list (parents can tweak the list and generate as many books list for as many children as they want plus I keep adding to the list of books) and is personal (I have read each book on this list cover to cover and love them). The books that make it to the Kids Must Read booklist are not bound by themes, publishers, or national boundaries. The book list focuses on books that are ‘must-reads’, in that these books are different from the popular books that you will find at your average bookstore – there is something special about each one of the books. 

As Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all." I hope that this website can help you build the love of books in children and give them wings to enlarge their world.