Monday, April 30, 2012

Book-Finding Websites

Here at The Yellin Center, many kids who are considered reluctant readers tell us that they like reading, if they can only find the right book. This caveat proves to be a frustrating challenge for both kids and their parents and teachers alike. The three websites below, however, may provide much-needed help in the search for that perfect next book. All three are easy enough for most children to use themselves and will allow kids and parents to make informed choices about their reading lists. Note that all three sites can search through titles for all ages, so children can use them to find books similar to The Hungry Caterpillar while parents can use them to decide what to read after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

What Should I Read Next? is about as no-frills as its name suggests. Type in the title of a book you enjoyed and uncover a list of recommended titles. The site allows users to link easily to Amazon where they can learn more about the books on the list and purchase them. Users should double-check recommendations before purchasing, as some of the results from this site can be a bit unusual. A search for titles like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie yielded many great choices, like Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patrician MacLachlan, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Mongomery, and All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs seemed a less relevant match, however.

YourNextRead is both user-friendly and visually appealing. Simply type in the title of a book you enjoyed and similar books will appear in a colorful diagram. Click on the image of a recommended book to read a brief description and reviews of the book, and if none of the suggestions are appealing (or if you’ve read them all), look for the More Books option at the bottom of the page to see even more suggestions. A search for books like James and the Giant Peach yielded The Fantastic Mr. Fox, also by Roald Dahl, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and many others. Hovering the mouse over the book will cause various thumbnail links to appear, allowing the user to easily find the book on Amazon, save it to a favorites list, email the title to a friend, preview sections of available books, and more.

Membership (free) is not required to useYourNextRead, but members can save searches and view their search history, so it may be worth the time it takes to sign up.

GoodReads works well for those looking for a spur-of-the-moment recommendation, but users who use it to record their reading may reap the biggest benefits. Nonmembers can simply visit the site, click on Recommendations, and start searching by genre. We clicked on “young adult” and found loads of titles appropriate for readers between the ages of 14 and 21. Descriptions of the books are easy to access: simply hover the mouse above the image of the book’s cover. A helpful text box on the right of the screen offered Related Genres such as Young Adult Fantasy, High School, and Coming of Age for further refining searches. And by scrolling down there were lists galore, with titles like “Most Read This Week,” “Best Creative Plots (w/ Love),” and “Best Young Adult Realistic Novels.”

As above, users don’t have to create an account to use GoodReads, but membership has great benefits. Members can enter and rate books they’ve read, and based on their preferences the site will recommend other similar books to them. Keeping such a record can be fun and rewarding for kids. Additionally, the site will save books in an “I want to read this” list for future reference.

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