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Children's and Young Adult Literature: Finding Children's/YA Literature

This guide is a starting place for exploring children's and young adult literature

How to Research Children's/YA Literature

With thousands of books for young people being published each year, finding that perfect book can be a daunting task.  This guide was created to provide tips and strategies that can be used to find quality children's and young adult literature.


In order to match books to young people, it's important to know some basic terminology. 

Reading Level: Reading levels are based on the expected grade level language development of students.  Reading levels are often thought to be rigidly structured through programs like Accelerated Readers; however, it is possible (and encouraged) for educators to be able to quickly analyze a text and draw their own conclusions on whether or not it meets the reading skill level of individuals or groups of students.

Development Level: The development level of a book is based on the specific topics/themes represented in a book as well as how they are portrayed. Young people should be reading materials that reflect the lived experiences/perspectives of their age.  Topics will also be handled differently based on the target age range; ex. social justice issues should be portrayed differently in books written for preschoolers than for books for high schoolers. 

Undiscovered Reader: The preferred term at the TDRL for students labeled as struggling or reluctant readers.  Many students do not considered themselves to be readers or develop reading skills because they are not provided access to reading materials they find engaging. They're reading preference are still undiscovered. 

Diverse Books: Books that reflect the lived experiences of people with marginalized identities.  Individuals carry multiple identities including race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, ability, socio-economic class, and citizenship. 

Own Voices: When authors or artists with marginalized identities create books that address those identities, they are considered to be Own Voices books. 

Formats: Children's and young adult literature includes a range of different formats that serve different purposes. Some unique formats collected at the TDRL include:

  • Picture Books: Short, illustrated books with limited number of pages and dimensions larger than the typical novel.  The images have equal importance to the text in regards to storytelling, and they are generally meant to be read aloud to young children while they look at the artwork (although more and more picture books are being written with elementary school children in mind). 
  • Early Readers: Also known as easy readers, beginning readers, transitional books, or independent readers, these are the first books that young readers use to start learning how to read. These books are formatted more closely to a typical novel with pictures that illustrate the text, large fonts, and limited vocabulary and sentence structure.  Many of them are labeled with a reading levels focused on beginning readers. 
  • Hi-Lo: These are books written at a developmentally appropriate level for the target age group but at reading levels two or more grades lower. The goal is to provide students with the content that they are interested in at reading levels they can understand.  Great for undiscovered readers. 
  • Graphic Novels: Often thought of as comics, graphic novels use sequential art to tell a story or to share information.  Graphic novels cover all genres of literature (memoir, nonfiction, fiction, informational, etc.) and is written for students in grades kindergarten through 12th.   


Resources for Finding Youth Literature

Children's and Young Adult Literature Guide: This digital guide is a great place to start browsing recently published books for young people.  Use the tabs at the top of this page to start navigating through lists of award winners, finalists for national book lists, or specific topics/formats such as LGBTQIA+ books for young people, graphic novels, or Hi-Lo books. 

NoveList Plus: Use NoveList Plus to search for book recommendations by age, format, genre, topic, tone, character type, awards, and more.  Includes professional reviews and read-alike recommendations for each book. For tutorials on how to get started, visit our NoveList Tutorial page

Teaching BooksContains resources on children's and young adult literature and authors. Includes discussion guides, author interviews, and other multimedia content.  For tutorials on how to get started, visit our Teaching Books Tutorial page

Quick SearchUse quick search to see which books are available at the TDRL.  Search by title or author, or browse books by format and publication year by conducting the following search:

  • Select "Advanced Search"
  • Limit the Search Scope field to "Teacher Development & Resources Library"
  • In the Any field contains box, type "*" (include the quotations)
  • Under the Publication Date field, select or type in the publication date ranges you are interested in browsing
  • Click "Search," and then use the Library Location filter in the right hand column to limit the results to a TDRL format (ex. picture books, juvenile fiction, etc.)

Additional tips for searching for children's and young adult literature include:

  • Click on subject headings to explore other titles with similar content
  • Use the virtual browse feature on an item page to see books in the same shelving area
  • Sign in to save items to your wishlist. 
  • Place requests on items to have them delivered to your UNLV library of choice.
  • If a book you want is not available, submit an Interlibrary Loan request or check the public library
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