Best of Lists: An Opportunity to Learn

Best stem booksWhen you see a recommended books list online, do you check it out?  Or do you scroll on past?  I always make a point of seeing which books are listed, especially if the list overlaps with my own work.

Recently, I read a Children’s Book Council post about the National Science Teachers Association list of the best STEM books for 2018 (published in 2017).  It would be such a thrill to land on this list one year so, of course, I printed it out and will be reading each and every one of the books.  In doing so, I’ll learn what science teachers look for in a STEM book.  I’ll be learning from the best.  Click on a link to the lists for 2017 and 2018 here.

The annual ALA awards, including the Newbery and the Caldecott are chosen by a panel of librarians.  I read those books to see which books Librarians thing are top-notch.

When I see a list, I check out who voted on the titles.  Librarians look for different qualities than do classroom teachers.  Parents look for another set of qualities.  Young readers?  They have yet a different set of criteria.  Each one can teach us something important about what appeals to that audience.

So when you see a list that has been pulled together by members of your audience, take a good luck.  But also be sure to know how each list is chosen.  Some take nominations and those on the list had the greatest number of votes.  Others have to be okayed by everyone on the panel of judges.

Spend some time reviewing the titles and be sure to check out the ones that are similar to your own work.  Perhaps this will mean reading picture books.  Or biographies.  Or STEM titles.  The more you read, the more you will learn about writing a book that appeals to your particular audience.


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