Choosing Books for Children & Teens


When faced with the sea of possibilities in choosing children’s books, there are a few basics you should consider to help you evaluate the quality and suitability of a book. Here from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre are some of the things to look for when considering storybooks and the genres that are appropriate for the young readers in your life.

Comic Books & Graphic Novels

Because comic books and graphic novels tell stories using words and pictures, both avid and reluctant readers alike will find these books appealing. Comic books are essentially longer versions of the short strips you tend to find in newspapers, and graphic novels are more complex, book-length comic books. The illustrations found in these books are intricate and encourage children and young adults to appreciate the melding of language and visual art. Comic books and graphic novels cover a variety of genres, including autobiography, biography, historical fiction, humour, fantasy, non-fiction and superhero.

Books for Reluctant Readers

Encourage the reluctant readers in your life to read wherever and whenever they can. In addition to a steady diet of good books, comics, newspapers, magazines and reviews of movies on the Internet are all great ways to get even the most reluctant reader interested in reading!

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction lets children imagine what it was like to live in the past, in Canada or anywhere in the world. It gives them the opportunity to ask questions about history and dig for more information. It also provides children with a more personal understanding of different time periods and the world’s significant events. Whether a child wants to learn about World War I, the Middle Ages or the Great Depression, historical fiction can be the perfect time machine.

Information Books

We often think of information books (also known as non-fiction books) as the perfect books for a school research project—and they are! But they also cover every topic from current events to sports to cooking! Good information books make factual information exciting and interesting. Vivid biographies or true tales of adventure can fire the imagination as powerfully as a good novel. Factual books can entertain and inspire, move readers to tears and laughter—and teach along the way.

Things-to-Do Books

Rainy days, quiet weekends and lazy afternoons don’t have to be boring—especially when there are things-to-do books for kids! A variety of craft and hobby books exist for children of all ages and can teach them how to make jewellery, draw cartoons, cook healthy snacks, and more! These books are fun to read and introduce children to new hobbies, activities and experiences. Some things-to-do books provide step-by-step instructions for exciting activities that can be done with items found around the house, while others require special materials that need to be purchased beforehand. There are even things-to-do books that already come with all the materials needed to carry out the projects.


From extolling the virtues of pizza to discussing alligator pies to telling about giants with colds, poems can cover every topic under the sun. Ear-pleasing rhymes, strong rhythms and laugh-out-loud punchlines make for kidapproved poetry. A good poem is fun to chant aloud over and over and helps children gain reading and performance skills. Reading poetry every day to children can make them more excited about words and language. Also, encouraging children to write their own poetry can offer them an avenue for self-expression.

Fantasy Novels

Imagine exploring a world filled with magic, wizards, talking animals and make-believe creatures on a Saturday afternoon without ever having to leave your house… For young readers who love fairy tales, fantasy, science fiction and horror novels are a natural extension. Well-written fantasy novels allow children to expand their imaginations by introducing them to fictional, dream-like worlds that have their own politics, economics, religions and customs. While these worlds often seem quite different from our own, they are usually just enchanted versions of the world we are used to.

Mystery and Detective Fiction

Calling all armchair spies, detectives and gumshoes! If your child likes a good mystery, there are several great Canadian mystery and whodunit books out there that are perfect for kids of all ages. Mystery and detective novels not only entertain readers, but they also help them practise their critical-thinking skills. They capture the reader’s attention with exciting suspenseful, clever and believable plotlines as well as likable, intelligent detective characters.


Make books and reading a part of your children’s lives right from the start. And set aside regular time to read to your children from infancy to adolescence.

Lead the Way…

Make regular visits to your local library and bookstore to help your children find the best books available.

And Set an Example…

When children see adults enjoying a good book, they get a very important message—you never outgrow books!