When I go to the library with my children, we always have a terrible time selecting books they might like to check out. Often, we leave with an armload of books, and they will only read a few of them at home. Is there a good way to find books at the library that my children will actually read at home? -- Bookworm


We have asked a number of librarians how they would answer your question. All agree on the obvious point that librarians can help children find books that are not too hard or too easy and are just right to read. Beyond this, here are some of their helpful suggestions:

Suburban librarian: Use book lists. In our library, the librarians have created book lists for what we call the cream of the crop of children's books. And there is a short excerpt describing each book. The children's librarians chose these books because they were award-winning books or they had proven popular at story times.

Children's librarian: I don't think that it is necessarily bad for children to take home library books and then decide not to read them. They are learning to discriminate and judge what they do and don't like. This will help them find something more appealing next time. Also, I'm not crazy about book lists, as I think that they limit children's exposure to many books.

Reference librarian: Always ask the librarian. Before helping a child select a book, I always conduct what I call a reference interview. I ask the child what the last book he or she read was and what he or she finds interesting. I also try to get an idea of the child's reading level to avoid having him or her be frustrated or insulted.

Children's librarian: I suggest a series of books called "We Both Read" for parents and first- and second-graders. On one side, there is text for the parent. On the other, there is simplified text for the child to read. It seems to me that this is an excellent way to start children reading. There are both fiction and nonfiction books in this series.

Large branch librarian: A good place to start when helping your children select books to read is to introduce them to the ones that you loved as a child.