Look at All the BOOKS, Honey!

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New readers can get overwhelmed when presented with an abundance of books from which to choose. Beyond a random grab or selecting books based upon cover designs, novices don’t know how to select books the way more experienced readers do and little ones can get lost in the dizzying number of choices.Library_Tabs2

So, how do we usher small children from utter confusion to comfortable selection? Well, first we need to help them understand there IS an organizational system they can use to find what they want. Then we need to help children strategically search the system so they are presented with just enough books to make their hunt pleasant and fruitful.

The Unite for Literacy online library has been growing steadily this year, with two new books added every week. The number of free books available to our patrons is now beyond 130! As a result, we felt it was time for us to sort and categorize our books so youngsters can go directly to a selection of books they will enjoy.

Welcome to our newly configured Unite for Literacy library!


We have added a series of buttons just above the bookshelves that invites readers to select a general early childhood topic (Animals, Plants and Food, Earth and Sky, Technology, Healthy Me, Family, Friends, Community, Create and Play, Know and Learn).  As each button is clicked, it changes color and its full category name appears next to it. Above you see that Animals has been selected because the button is purple and its name is displayed. The 25 books that appear in this collection all include animals.

Spanish_SelectedOn the far left side of the button band, you’ll find an icon depicting a speech bubble with the globe in it. This is where you can select a second language (in addition to English) in which to hear the book, like Spanish. The combination of Animals and Spanish yields 24 book from which to choose.  If I change the narration language to Italian, the screen blinks and all of the animal books with an Italian narration appear (there are just five so far).

Two_special_iconsAnother feature we hope children and their families will enjoy include a button with three books on it. Clicking this button will display all of the books from all 10 categories that are available in the selected language. The button on the right that looks like a clock displays books that the patron has read recently, offering children an easily accessible list of their latest favorites.

Icon_ArrowFinally, for smartphones and other screens that can’t display all of the buttons at once, we offer an arrow at both ends of the long button band indicating there are more buttons to view in either direction.

We hope these new search and find tools offer families and new readers the means to spend more time with books they prefer. Please share with early childhood educators, parents and school age children that these resources, which are free for them to read and enjoy, are now even easier to navigate!

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3 Responses to “Look at All the BOOKS, Honey!”

  1. Teresa April 6, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    I just discovered this wonderful resource today. I’m wondering if you offer reading level information?
    Thank you!

    • Mark Condon April 22, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

      That’s a question we get a lot. It is often followed up by the name of the leveling system that the questioner is comfortable with.
      We don’t do that Teresa, though we’re naturally happy for others to use our books in their systems. The reason is that our goal is to grow children who read what THEY choose based upon personal interest and past experience. That supports them becoming independent AVID readers, which is our fondest hope for any child. Eager readers can read well above their achievement levels as I’m sure you know. Those are the kids who are intrepid and persistent in pursuing their own learning long after the last school bell rings. Graduating lifelong learners is the ultimate achievement for any school.


  1. Sobbing over the end | McCarthy of Hudson - September 10, 2015

    […] I know everyone says this, but it really is a good idea — at least with preschoolers. One of my colleagues refers to this advice as the “chicken soup” of reading education. We prescribe it for everything. (Does it help? It couldn’t hurt.) If a parent or caregiver can’t read or can’t read English, there are alternatives, such as using audiobooks; but for those who can, reading a book or story to a child is a great, easy way to advance literacy skills. Research shows benefits for kids as young as 9-months-old, and it could be effective even earlier than that. Reading to kids exposes them to richer vocabulary than they usually hear from the adults who speak to them, and can have positive impacts on their language, intelligence, and later literacy achievement. What should you read to them? There are so many wonderful children’s books. Visit your local library, and you can get an armful of adventure. You can find recommendations from kids at the Children’s Book Council website or at the International Literacy Association Children’s Choices site, as well as free books online at other websites like Search Lit or Unite for Literacy. […]