Children’s Literature Pathfinder for Parents and Teachers


Created by Katheryn Weber

LIS6603.732F08: Basic Info Sources/Services

Dr. Debra Slone




Introduction and Scope

            Children’s Literature is an extremely broad area, and it is often difficult for young people to know where to go next when a book is finished.  It is very important that children have access to good literature that interests them, so as to foster a life-long love for reading.  Children today have so many choices when it comes to books that it is virtually impossible for them to not find an interesting book. Keeping these young readers hooked will benefit their lives in ways other than simply encouraging literacy.

Many times, parents and teachers face the question “I don’t know what book to read” from their children and students.  This pathfinder is designed to guide users toward resources that will help them choose books for the classroom or their home libraries that their children will want to read.  It focuses on elementary grade level literature, but there is also higher level reading included in several of the sources.  This is meant to help parents and teachers of advanced readers choose an interesting book, as they often need guidance due to age-inappropriate themes in books at their reading levels.  By using the resources included in this pathfinder, parents and teachers can become more knowledgeable on what their children are reading and help them choose their next book.  This pathfinder is intended for individuals with access to the University of South Florida library, in particular the Tampa campus, although interlibrary loan is available.



Browsing Areas for the USF Library


CT104 Reference Annex

PN1009-PS374 Reference Annex

BL313 Circulating Collection

E184 Circulating Collection

LB1575 Circulating Collection

PN1008-PS374 Reference Collection

PN1008 Periodicals

Z1037 Periodicals

PN1008 – PS490 Circulating Collection

Z1037 Circulating Collection






Entries followed by * are also available as an E-Book through the USF Library webpage.






*    Anderson, V. (1998). Sequels in children’s literature: An annotated bibliography of books in succession or with shared themes and characters, K-6.  Jefferson, NC: MacFarland & Company, Inc.

There are about 3000 annotated titles and over 400 authors in this guide to sequels, sequences, and series.  Grade levels are not included, but age appropriateness will help parents and teachers determine if a book is suitable or not.  This is a great source to answer the question “what comes next”.


*    Barr, C. (Ed.). (1998). From biography to history: Best books for children’s entertainment and education. New Providence, NJ: R. R. Bowker.

This is an excellent resource to help encourage students to read something dealing with social studies.  It includes bibliographical references, as well as indexes, and the entries are arranged alphabetically.  After each entry (of which there are over 300), there is a suggested reading list for older readers.


*    Denman-West, M. W. (1998). Children’s literature: A guide to information sources. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc. *

This mainly bibliographic book contains information on various subject areas in children’s literature, such as award-winning books, multicultural choices, subject areas, biographies, and periodical sources.  It can be used to help build a classroom library, or simply guide the reader to an interesting choice for their next book.


*    Lind, B. B. (1996). Multicultural children’s literature: An annotated bibliography, grades K-8. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.

This bibliography contains over 1,100 literature titles dealing with four ethnic groups - African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans.  Each section is broken down into two groups of grade levels – K-3 and 4-8.  The organization goes even further, as the sections are divided into genres including informational nonfiction, biographies/autobiographies, historical/realistic fiction, and folktales/myths/legends.  There is also curriculum material available for teachers.


*    Odean, K. (2001). Great books about things kids love: More than 750 recommended books for children 3-14. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

There is a wide rnage of topics covered in the titles found in this resource.  The titles were included based on librarians and teachers who found them interesting as read-alouds or independent choices.  The eight categories of titles are broken down into animals; arts and crafts; folklore and fantasy; history and adventure; games, puzzles, hobbies and holidays; science, math, and technology; sports; and transportation and engineering.  An index is included to help locate specific titles, as the titles within the categories are arranged by age level.


*    Odean, K. (1998). Great books for boys: More than 600 books for boys 2-14. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Getting boys to read is often much more difficult than getting girls to read.  This is simply because of a difference in interests.  The titles in this resource cover a broad range of topics and themes in an attempt to expose boys to a variety of experiences, but graphic novels and comic books are not included.  The titles are organized by reading level and genre.


*    Odean, K. (1997). Great books for girls: More than 600 books to inspire today’s girls and tomorrow’s women. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Included in this inspiring collection of literature aimed at young girls are biographical references and indexes.  The titles in this collection depict strong female characters that break the stereotypes of girls and women in our culture.  There are also age guidelines, making choosing an appropriate book easy.


*    Sinclair, P. (1992). E for environment: An annotated bibliography of children’s books with environmental themes. New Providence, NJ: R. R. Bowker.

This is an annotated list of 517 titles of children’s books for ages up to 14.  It includes award-winning books and science trade books, as well as an appendix with titles for older children or higher readers.





*        Pettus, E. S. (1998). Master index to more summaries of children’s books, 1980-1990. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

This is a useful tool for parents and teachers who are interested in what common and popular children’s books are about.  As indicated by the title, the books included were published between the years 1980-1990, thus limiting the selection to that decade.  It also has subject and title indexes for easy use.





*        Fisher, M. T. (1975). Who’s who in children’s book: A treasury of familiar characters of childhood. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

This is a useful directory that gives information about beloved characters from familiar children’s stories.  Notice, though, that it was published in 1975, so if more current information is needed, another source would be more useful.


*        Jones, D. B. (1994). Children’s literature awards and winners: A directory of prizes, authors and illustrators. Detroit, MI: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

This directory contains information on award winning authors, illustrators and their works.  It is an excellent resource for those wishing to read critically-acclaimed books and an annual supplement updates the latest edition.





*        Cecil, N. L. (1998). Families in children’s literature: A resource guide, grades 4-8. Englewood, CO: Teacher Ideas Press. *

This is a great resource that includes quality children’s literature that portrays families in a positive and diverse manner.  It cites 100 familiar books, and it includes activities and questions that go along with each.  Parents will find it useful to help explain and discuss difficult family issues at home, and teachers can use it to bring positive family stories into the classroom.


*        Hearne, B. & Stevenson, D. (2000). Choosing books for children: A commonsense guide. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

This is an updated revision of the original publication (1981), and contains information to discuss issues surrounding the many titles included.  There are also comprehensive bibliographies and advice on how to choose just the right book for a child.  It is presented in a user-friendly manner that allows the adult to introduce the literature to the child in a knowledgeable way.


*        Lipson, E. R. (2000). (3rd Ed.). The New York Times parents’ guide to the best books for children.  New York, NY: Three Rivers Press.

Included in this revised and updated edition are the top 1,001 children’s literature titles from the 20th century.  The titles are categorized in six age ranges, making it easy for parents and teachers to find the appropriate level of books.  There are also young adult books, which is useful to parents of those more advanced readers.  Each title includes an annotation, letting adults become familiar with the content of the books.


*        Scott, J. C. (1984). Children’s literature from A to Z: A guide for parents and teachers. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Teachers and parents can use this resource as a means to familiarize themselves with quality children’s literature.  It will help adults understand the books, therefore being better able to guide their children to a good book that they will want to read.


*        Silvey, A. (Ed.). (2002). The essential guide to children’s books and their creators.  Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co. *

This resource includes essays in around 375 titles for children, which can help parents and teachers know what books will best suit their child’s needs.  It also allows the adults to become aware with what themes may be in some of these books.


*        Thomas, R. L. & Barr, C. (2004). Popular series fiction for K-6 readers: A reading and selection guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

This is an excellent resource to help children find the next book in a popular series.  Once children get hooked on a particular series, they generally want to read the rest, and then similar series.  The series included have at least three titles, and are arranged alphabetically by series name.  Each entry includes author, publisher and date of publication, grade level, genre, an annotation, and a list of the titles in the series.  Where applicable, Accelerated Reader information is listed, which is a very useful aspect for teachers.


*        Wilson, E. L. (1987). Books children love:  A guide to the best children’s literature. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.

This book offers comments on the content of hundreds of titles in over two dozen subject areas.  Both fiction and nonfiction titles are included, so there is bound to be something of interest to even the most stubborn readers.  Delineated subject areas make it easy to search by topic to meet the needs of students who are interested in a specific genre or aspect of literature.







*        Cullinan, B. E. & Person, D. G. (Eds.). (2001). The continuum encyclopedia of children’s literature. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group.

There are 1,200 author/illustrator and 97 topic entries in this extensive collection.  Biographical information of authors/illustrators, such as notable awards, works, and achievements, as well as critical discussions is included.  This would be a useful tool in finding other works by enjoyed authors or other books dealing with a subject of interest.


*        Hurst, C. O. (1990). Once upon a time… : An encyclopedia for successfully using literature with young children. Allen, TX: Tabor Publishing.

This book is geared for university students in the education field, but it can be helpful to teachers and parents as well.  It includes annotated lists of books by categories and an index, so it could be useful in finding a book about a specific topic of interest.  Basic biographical information about authors/illustrators is also included.


*        Zipes, J. (Ed.). (2006). The Oxford encyclopedia of children’s literature. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

This is a very comprehensive resource in discovering the world of children’s literature.  It discusses 39 countries and regions, including the Arab world; China; South America (Spanish-speaking); 105 "Special Subjects and Terms";106 genres or types of literature, including Crossover books, Graphic novels, Horse and pony stories, and Television and children; over 150 titles and characters; and more than 2,700 entries on authors, illustrators, librarians, and other important people in children’s literature.  There is also a selected bibliography and a detailed index, making this resource easy to use and very helpful.






*        Helbig, A. K. & Perkins, A. R. (1985). Dictionary of American children's fiction, 1859-1959: Books of recognized merit. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.


*        Helbig, A. K. & Perkins, A. R. (1986). Dictionary of American children's fiction, 1960-1984: Recent books of recognized merit. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press


*        Helbig, A. K. & Perkins, A. R. (1993). Dictionary of American children's fiction, 1985-1989: Books of recognized merit. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press


*        Helbig, A. K. & Perkins, A. R. (1996). Dictionary of American children's fiction, 1990-1994: Books of recognized merit. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press


*        Helbig, A. K. & Perkins, A. R. (2002). Dictionary of American children's fiction, 1995-1999: Books of recognized merit. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press

The above five entries are comprehensive volumes in a series of useful sourcebooks.  They include hundreds of entries on titles that have won critical acclaim and awards.  Each entry includes a synopsis of the book and sometimes a critical analysis.  Detailed indexes make finding a title easy.  The breakdown of years makes this series a very useful tool in finding the right book for a young reader. 





*        Children’s Literature Review. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Group. 1976. Three times yearly.

Technically this is a journal, but it fits with the reviews as well.  The USF library has most of the volumes and issues of this periodical dating back to 1976.  It is a great source for book reviews, criticisms, and commentaries.  The latest edition available in the library is from 2005.


*        Helbig, A. K. & Perkins, A. R. (1997). Myths and hero tales: A cross-cultural guide to literature for children and young adults. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Included in this source are brief critical reviews of 189 books that were published between 1985 and 1996 that deal with myths and hero tales.  The indexes list stories by writer, tale type, culture, character and place name, grade level, title, or illustrator, making it easier to find an appropriate choice for a child of a specific age or grade level.  There is also a bibliography of 26 standard works.


*        Kutzer, M. D. (Ed.). (1996). Writers of multicultural fiction for young adults: A bio-critical sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Teachers will find this resource a valuable tool in finding quality children’s literature titles to foster multicultural awareness in the classroom.  There are critical reviews of more than 50 writer's works, and it includes famous as well as lesser-known authors in its reviews.





All journals are available through the USF library page as E-Journals.  Some are available for free on the Internet.


*        Children’s Literature.  Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. 1972. Annually.

This is a peer reviewed publication, and it is the official journal of the Children’s Literature Association.  Each volume includes eight to ten articles, five to seven review essays, and an index.  It deals with current issues in the field of children’s literature, and might be more appropriate for teachers or those in an academic setting.


*        Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.   Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. 1975. Quarterly.

This academic journal includes theoretical articles and essays, as well as book reviews.  It also has an international column.  It is published in February, May, August and November. 


*        Children’s Literature in Education. New York, NY: Springer Netherlands. 1970. Quarterly.

The journal contains articles on prose, fiction, poetry, as well as picture books.  It also contains many features that would be useful to teachers, such as articles on the reading process and other reading related topics.  It is available online as well as in print.  The following website brings up the online journal page:


*        Journal of Children’s Literature.   University Park, PA: Children’s Literature Assembly. Biannually.

This is a refereed publication that includes research, reviews of children's books and professional resources, booklists, teaching ideas, among other interesting points.


*        The Horn Book Magazine. Boston, MA: The Horn Book Inc. 1924. Bimonthly.

This long running magazine is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers interested in children’s literature.  Each issue contains opinions in the field and book reviews of the best selling titles.  The Horn Book Guide is a related publication that is strictly reviews; however, it is not available through USF’s library. 


*        The Lion and the Unicorn. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. 1977. Three times yearly.

The book reviews in this journal are highly regarded, making this a great source to find a good book for a young person.  It also contains interviews with editors and authors, as well as material dealing with regional authors, comparative studies, illustration, and popular culture.







*        Axel-Lute, M. (Compiled by). Quotation index to children's literature. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

This resource is a wonderful tool to help locate the source of familiar phrases and sayings.  It includes quotations by author, quotations from traditional sources, keyword index, title index, and bibliography sections, making it very easy to find the desired quotation.  This would be useful for finding books related to popular children’s movies in which a character says something memorable.


*        McElmeel, S. L. (1999). 100 most popular children’s authors: Biographical sketches and bibliographies. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

This volume includes four to five page entries on some of the most popular and well-known children’s authors, such as Beverly Cleary, writer of the Ramona Quimby series.  Many of the books included in this resource are geared toward upper elementary or higher level readers.  Lists for further reading and annotated lists are sometimes included with the author biography.


*        Volz, B., Scheer, C. & Welborn, L. (2000). Junior genreflecting: A guide to good reads and series fiction for children. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.

Included in this E-Book are titles for children published between 1990 and 1998.  They are geared toward third through eighth graders, and each section includes annotated bibliographies of popular works.  There are chapters dedicated to adventure books, animal stories, realistic fiction, fantasy and sci-fi, historical fiction, and mysteries, and the author/title index makes finding a specific book easy.





  Web Sources & Databases   


*        American Library Association. (2008). Best books for young adults. Retrieved November 26, 2008, from

This site is definitely targeted toward older readers, but there may be material of interest for advanced readers.  It would also be helpful in finding a popular book that a parent could read with their child.  The year goes back to 1996 and links on the page take the user to a list of “best books”.  The drawback is that there are no annotations, so the user is left not knowing what each book discusses.  Searching for the selected title at an online bookstore site, such as or, would give the user the desired description of each title.


*        American Library Association. (2008). Internet resources: Children’s literature: Useful sites for teachers, librarians, and students. Retrieved November 26, 2008, from

This site is a pathfinder in itself.  It includes links to several sites dealing with children’s literature, and literature geared toward young adults and adolescents is purposely omitted.  Each link gives a brief description of what the site offers, making choosing the appropriate link easier.


*        Brown, D. K. (2001). The children’s literature Web guide.  Retrieved November 26, 2008, from

David Brown works at the Doucette Library of Teaching Resources at the University of Calgary in Canada.  The site is very straightforward at first glance, making it easy to use.  One of the most appealing features is the “Quick Reference” section, which includes a link to notable children’s books as according to reputable organizations.  This is a very approachable and well organized starting point for someone interested in what to read next.  It is available through the USF library page, but it is also accessible for those without access to the university.


*        CLCD Company. Children’s literature comprehensive database. Retrieved November 26, 2008, from

This is an extremely comprehensive database, as depicted by its name.  It does require a subscription for those without access to the database through USF.  It has access to over 150,000 full-text reviews on books, audiobooks, and other multimedia, making a great tool to decide if a chosen book is really worth reading.  There is also a section offering 3,000 Web features about authors and illustrators in the field, as well as award winners dating back decades.  According to its professional reviews, this is a user-friendly tool that will be useful to parents, children, teachers, and librarians.


*        Gale Cenage Learning. Literature resource center. Retrieved November 26, 2008, from

This is a comprehensive literature database that includes all kinds of literature.  An author search can be narrowed down to children’s literature, though, in a few steps.  Simply select “Authors by Type” and then select Children’s Literature as the genre.  A keyword search for children’s literature also brings up some other resources, but it might take some looking through to find what was desired, so searching by author seems to be the best solution.


*        Ubbes, V. A. (2008). Children's picture book database at Miami University. Oxford, OH: Miami University Libraries. Retrieved November 26, 2008, from

This is a useful database because keywords can be searched and a variety of results is generated.  The search results are arranged in alphabetical order and include abstracts briefly describing the book.  This is a picture book database, so it is geared more for younger students, but there are numerous picture books at higher reading levels that will interest older and more advanced students.