There are more great children’s books being published than ever before, but how do you know which ones to read? Fortunately, today there are so many ways to access children’s book reviews. Here are some of the best places to find reviews of children’s literature.
Part 1: General Children’s Book Reviews
In this first section of our roundup of the best children’s book review websites, I’ll discuss publications that cover all things kid lit.
As its name implies, The Children’s Book Review is all about book reviews of children’s literature. With huge coverage of all kinds of kid lit, The Children’s Book Review is simple to browse books by subject and books by age, along with buzzy “trending” books and “showcase” books. Your typical book review lays out the specs (intended age, page count, etc.) and provides a medium-sized review with information about the author and/or illustrator. The Children’s Book Review is definitely one of the most comprehensive book review sites for kid lit, and it supplements its reviews with author interviews and curated lists.
Common Sense Media is an organization that reviews media (books, TV, movies, apps, games) with a special focus on educating parents and other adults on “What Parents Should Know,” vis-à-vis content warnings and age appropriateness. Some of the qualities Common Sense Media covers include “Educational Value,” “Positive Messages,” “Positive Role Models and Representations,” and “Language.” Especially notable is Common Sense Media’s focus on diversity, with an invitation to reach out if they’ve “missed anything on diversity.” Also of note, Common Sense Media is one of the few children’s book reviews websites that rates books using a star system. If you just want to know quickly how good a book is, navigate over to Common Sense Media and find a book’s star rating.
Children’s book review magazine The Horn Book takes its name from”horn books,” which were some of the earliest books made to educate children. The Horn Book is a leading publication in print and online for finding children’s book reviews. This treasured magazine’s website is well-organized, and you can find all the reviews in an easy-to-search database. For the best of the best, browse by The Horn Book‘s starred reviews. If you buy a paid subscription, you’ll have access to the huge, searchable archive of more than 70,000 reviews, known as “The Guide.” There, you can browse book reviews by Authors/Illustrators, Subjects, Series, and Reviewers. Though some reviews cost a subscription to view, some content, like the “Book Bundles” (check out the one on “Our Bodies, Our Selves” for an example), which group together like-minded books based on themes and include bite-sized reviews, are available for free.
One of the leading book review sites for all genres and age levels, Kirkus has plenty of kid lit content. Kirkus lets you easily sort by different categories like age, format (picture book, chapter book, etc.), sub-genre (biographies and memoirs, historical fiction), and category (e.g. fiction vs. nonfiction). You can also filter by what books get a coveted Kirkus star. What’s great about Kirkus’s unique format is each review is brief and to the point. If you don’t want to go digging for the bottom line, Kirkus’s kid lit reviews are a good place to start.
If you’re looking for the buzziest kid lit books, check out Children’s Bookshelf, the free weekly newsletter from Publishers Weekly. This publication is known for its up-to-the-minute chatter about the publishing industry, including children’s books, which are reviewed in roundups, as well as all kinds of bookish content. Subscribing to Children’s Bookshelf is one of the best ways to stay current with kid lit.
Leave it to the librarians to guide you on what children’s books to read. The long-running School Library Journal has tons of reviews of every kind of kid lit book imaginable. With a special focus on advising libraries whether or not to purchase a book, School Library Journal dishes out bite-sized takeaways (known as a “VERDICT”) at the end of each review. School Library Journal also has tons of non-review content, getting you caught up with the latest news in the world of children’s literature.
Part 2: Special Focus Children’s Book Reviews Websites
In this section, I’ll highlight the places to go for more specialized kid lit coverage.
This phenomenal site concentrates on promoting the best children’s literature by Indigenous authors and illustrators. Search the site for specific topics or skip right to the “Best Books” for the books most worth celebrating.
The Brown Bookshelf is dedicated to featuring book reviews of kid lit by Black authors and illustrators. Start by searching the site or filtering for book reviews. The Brown Bookshelf also compiles great resources for finding more children’s books by Black voices. You’ll find the most up-to-date coverage on the blog.
Although no longer updated, the book reviews on Disability in Kid Lit are worth consulting if you’re looking for children’s book reviews about disabled protagonists. You can use the well-indexed search function and browse by different disabilities depending on what condition or identity you’re looking for. Also of note, the “Honor Roll” puts the spotlight on the best representation of disability in kid lit.
The reviewers and writers at Hijabi Librarians set their lens on children’s and YA books with Muslim representation. Along with author interviews and book discussion guides, Hijabi Librarians includes book reviews and resources for Muslim voices in children’s literature.
Looking for coverage of Latinx authors and illustrators in children’s literature? Definitely be sure to check out Latinx in Kid Lit. This resource compiles reviewed books that feature Latinx representation. You can search by age range — for example, middle grade books — and find that each review includes “Teacher Tips” for educators. The Latinx in Kid Lit blog also has tons of great content, including interviews, Latinx book deals, and publishing industry news specific to Latinx creators.
Social Justice Books is focused on…you guessed it, social justice in children’s literature! This site has loads of great guidance on the best social justice topics in kid lit, like the carefully curated booklists by theme. Check out the book review database, which aggregates reviews and is organized by themes like “Activism,” “Asian American,” and “Bullying.” Each book is given a star rating, making for an easy browsing experience if you’re just looking for the best reads.
Special Focus: Can’t-Miss-It Resources for Diversity in Children’s Literature
Bestselling and award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith maintains a website all about children’s and young adult books. On Cynsations you’ll find a broad array of content, including diverse author/illustrator interviews and news roundups.
Already highlighted above, Social Justice Books is a terrific resource for finding diverse children’s book reviews with a social justice focus. But I also wanted to shine a light on their list of sources for diverse kid lit book reviews if you’re looking for even more sources of diverse children’s literature.
We Need Diverse Books is a non-profit alliance to further diversity in children’s and YA literature. Although We Need Diverse Books does not publish book reviews, they do have an outstanding roundup of resources for diversity in kid lit that should be a stop on everyone’s journey to find more diverse children’s literature.
Part 3: Children’s Book Review Social Media Accounts to Check Out
Instagram is a great resource for finding children’s book reviews. A diverse range of educators, Bookstagrammers, librarians, and more all highlight great children’s books. Here are some of Book Riot’s favorite children’s book review influencers to follow on Instagram.
@babylibrarians — Margaret and Jen
@hereweread — Charnaie Gordon
Charnaie Gordon is a huge book influencer focusing on diversity in children’s literature. You won’t want to miss the books she loves.
@leeandlowbooks — Lee and Low Books
The POC-owned Lee and Low Books is a children’s book publisher dedicated to diversity. They feature the best of the best books on their Instagram.
@lgbtqkidlit — Laurie and Julie
This account is managed by two moms and showcases children’s book reviews with queer themes.
@littlefeministbookclub — Little Feminist Book Club
As its name implies, Little Feminist Book Club is dedicated to sharing the best children’s books with feminist themes.
@noodlenutskidsbooks — Jenn S.
Jenn S. writes book reviews of new picture books focused on diversity.
@readwithriver — Alessandra Requena
This Bookstagrammer promotes the best children’s books.
@shelvesofcolor — Saranya & Ishaan
Saranya and Ishaan review diverse children’s books on Bookstagram.
@thebookwrangler — Mike
The Mike behind this popular bookstagram account is a K–5 librarian who shares his favorite recent reads.
@thetututeacher — Vera Ahiyya
Educator Vera Ahiyya shares diverse book reviews on Instagram.
Still hunting for more great children’s books? Check out our Children’s Books archive, as well as these helpful posts: