On May 1, the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee (CBC) launched its new Searchable Best Books List, an online tool designed to help families, educators, and others access book recommendations for children of all ages. The resource is the latest effort in the CBC’s mission to promote developmentally appropriate and engaging titles that best serve young readers.
The new Searchable Best Books List draws from the committee’s Best Children’s Books of the Year lists, which are released every year with more than 600 titles that are selected based on literary quality and excellence of presentation, as well as their potential emotional impact on children. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, age suitability, positive treatment of religious and ethnic differences, and more. The tool aggregates titles from lists published from the year 2000 to the present year.
The idea to create the Searchable Best Books List began when the CBC identified the need to develop an easy and convenient way for people to search for CBC-recommended books that suit their own interests and needs. After conceptualizing how the tool would operate and imagining its possibilities, the CBC tapped the technical expertise of Ryan McCormack from Bank Street’s Information Technology (IT) team, who helped bring the tool to life this spring after years of ongoing collaboration and testing.
“We imagined the tool would be incredibly useful for all types of curious readers and reader supporters,” said Mollie Welsh Kruger, Supervised Fieldwork Advisor and Course Instructor, Bank Street Graduate School. “For example, a teacher may use this tool to find books while planning a specific unit of study across content areas. A librarian might use it to find titles that support the appetite of a specific reader. Or, a family member might find it helpful while shopping for their readers at home.”
The tool allows users to search titles across a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres. Fictional books highlight themes like adventure and mystery, historical and science fiction, and more. Nonfiction books include biographies, as well as STEM, arts, and other subjects. Users can perform simple or advanced searches based on authors and illustrators, titles, and different keywords related to topics of interest. They can also narrow their search to a particular age group, starting with ages 5 and under through ages 14 and up.
In addition, users have the option to generate custom book lists based on their searches, which can be downloaded and printed. This feature allows lists to be archived, accessed, and shared at a later date.
“We are thrilled at the opportunity to share this tool widely with families, educators, librarians, publishers, bookstore staff, curious readers, and others,” said Welsh Kruger. “When children engage with developmentally appropriate, high-quality books, it nurtures their understanding of the world around them and inspires a lifelong love of reading, which drives our mission here at the CBC.”
Founded in 1909, the CBC—housed within the Center for Children’s Literature in the Bank Street Library—helps parents, caregivers, and professionals choose books that children will find captivating and transforming. In addition to producing comprehensive annotated books lists for children ages 0 through 18, the committee is also known for its annual awards, including the Josette Frank Award for fiction, the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for nonfiction, and the Claudia Lewis Award for poetry. CBC members are writers, illustrators, editors, librarians, teachers, parents, and more.