Selecting literature for the classroom is an important part of preparing the environment. The books that you choose should reflect your students’ needs and interests, while supporting the curriculum.  However, navigating the world of children’s books to reach classroom goals can be daunting. In support of 21st century readers, classroom libraries must reflect a variety of genre, authors, artistic media, reading levels, text structures . . . book characters must be relatable, compelling, diverse. Children need opportunity to read widely to broaden their knowledge base with a variety of perspectives. The desire to read must be supported with well-written stories that engage and challenge young minds.

A little help, please !    Picture book database

While there are many online resources that review and recommend books (including The Read-Aloud Connection), Picture Book Database is a fee-based, user-friendly service, unique in scope and comprehension, that just gives you the facts – lots of facts! Combining data from dozens of online and print sources, thousands of picture books, and countless publisher, author, and illustrator websites, Picture Book Database helps you to find in one place the best picture books to suit your students by going beyond bibliographic data to explore the “whole book.” Every time I use this database I come away with another facet of picture books that I had not considered.

There are over 28,000 picture books, picture storybooks, beginning readers, board books, poetry collections, and graphic formats on this site filtered through over 40 tracking fields, with approximately 75 – 100 new books added each month.

I find this database particularly helpful in linking non-fiction and fictional texts on a theme, which I can refine by age group. This gives me an age-appropriate, multi-genre approach to classroom themes, bringing a variety of perspectives and possibilities to read-alouds and independent reading.

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In addition, many of the titles in the database have preview links to Google Books©.

Individual subscriptions are $7.00/one week 49.00/annual. Group subscriptions for schools are also available.

There’s more . . . Companion websites

The Storytime Database is a fee-based service that indexes material commonly used for read alouds in a library, school, or daycare setting. Searchable storytime resources include picture books, poetry (all forms), songs (lyrics and CD), rhymes (action, nursery, jump rope), crafts, and more. You can create a unique list of material to extend the read-aloud experience for your children.

Picturing Books is a free service, created and organized by Denise I. Matulka, offering a basic guide to all facets of the picture book format, including the anatomy of picture books and descriptions of various artistic media and styles. Teaching aids are included.