How to Choose a Picture Book

A home should have two types of books for children, library books that come and go, and purchased books that are read over and over. So how do you decide which books are worth the time and money? With the price of books rising, you may be tempted to focus on independently published books which are often cheaper. But, how do you decide whether to buy an indie authors picture book?

Reviews aren’t always the best indication. Bad reviews can warm you off but good reviews can be bought or traded. Look for the names of reviewers you trust.

Does the author belong to a national or international organized nation with professional standing such as CANSCAIP or CCBC? This means he or she has been published in the traditional market. Therefore, at least some of their work has passed by the gatekeepers.

Unfortunately nine out of 10 independently published picture books that I’ve read have been of poor quality. [This goes for adult books as well.] But, to be fair, about seven out of 10 traditionally published picture books are not so hot either. Publishing houses are churning out a lot of junk, especially faddish books, product promoting books, mediocre books written by celebrities, and poorly written interactive books. [Stick a few flaps and tabs on and no one will notice that the story sucks must be the philosophy.]

So what can you do as a purchaser of books for a child? READ IT FIRST. The look inside concept on Amazon isn’t nearly enough. If you can’t go to an actual bookstore and pick it up, find out if the author provides the opportunity for you to preview the book. I always read the complete picture book before deciding whether or not to buy it. The first few pages can be deceptive. Does the story meet professional standards? There should be no errors, clumsy sentences, outdated references, or boring sections. Buyers should not have to be editors. But most of all, is it compelling? Will it interest at child more than once? Does it stimulate discussion? And, first and foremost, does it tell a good story or pique a child’s interest in a nonfiction topic? If you can’t envision reading it over and over, don’t buy it.

The Little Miss History series by Barbara Ann Mojica  is a great indie published nonfiction series for children.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages