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Getting Your Children's Book Reviewed
by Kathryn Lay

Reviews on children’s hardback picture books and novels are important for many reasons – but one of the most important is that it gets your books noticed by school and public librarians. Hardback book sales are not limited to libraries, but they are often the backbone that prepares the way for purchases by children and parents, as well as future paperback sales.

Many librarians go by the ‘rule of 3.’ They will only purchase a book from the many listed in publishers’ catalogs if they have been reviewed at least three times. When your books are purchased for libraries, the possibilities for school and library visits (and more sales) are endless.

It is less important that the reviews are positive or negative, more important that your book has been reviewed. A Starred review or special mention beyond the basic listing of your book is even a bigger coup.

Book reviews give your book an advantage to perspective parent buyers. If you are planning to promote your book through school programs and book signings, placing positive comments in reviews into your promotion packet or on a flier is an extra endorsement for your book

As an author, reading reviews of children’s books is helpful even before your book is sold and published. It is a way to find out what is liked, what is needed, or what is overdone. It is also a good way to gain ideas for writing a short ‘review’ of your book in your cover letter, as well as a jacket blurb if you are asked to provide one.

Since most print review publications print their reviews the quarter or month of a book’s publication, your book must be sent to the reviewer ahead of time. Some review sources must be done through your publisher, while others will accept books from authors. Check websites or call for information well ahead of your book’s publication date.

There are many formats for children’s book reviews. Here are 8 of the top ones:

BOOKLIST: http://ala8.ala.org/booklist

This review magazine from the American Library Association is a guide for school and public libraries. Nearly 4000 children’s books are reviewed yearly. Booklist also includes articles on authors and some detailed book reviews or essays. A star with the review indicates that the work is considered outstanding in its genre by the reviewer.


Magazine - Bimonthly. The Hornbook Magazine is filled with reviews of the newest books, articles, and columns about books. 400 books are reviewed annually. Check the web site for information about how to send your books for review.

Guide – The Guide is published in the Spring and Fall, the two most important times for children’s book publishing. It provides short, critical annotations of all hardcover trade children’s and young adult books published in the

U.S. within a six-month period.

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: http://www.bookwire.com/slj

Since 1954, The School Library Journal is one of the top print resources for librarians who work with children and young adults. Books reviewed by the School Library Journal must be readily available from national distributors.

Check the website for detailed information on how your publisher can get your book reviewed with SLJ.


The online mega-bookstore has become an important tool for writers and publishers. Not only can book reviews from print review magazines be placed on the site with your book, but readers can also review and rate your book.For information on how to put your reviews on your site, go to the Help menu at Amazon.com. From there click Send Email. In that menu go to Author & Publisher Services. Here you can list your book in the Amazon.com catalog, correct information on your book’s page, and enhance your book’s detail page in many ways.

You will also find the mailing address to submit information, as well as how to submit through the Internet.

BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S BOOKS: http://www.lis.uiuc.edu/puboff/bccb/

One of the leading children’s book review journals for school and public librarians. The Bulletin tries to review books one month before publication date. The reviews may include ‘stars’. They also give ‘Blue Ribbon’ awards. The online version keeps archives of reviews, features, and awards.

At the online site, click Review Guidelines for information on getting your book reviewed.

KIRKUS: http://www.bowker.com/lrg/home/entries/kirkus_reviews%2Creview_journals.html

Kirkus is published semi-monthly and reviews approximately 4500 books a year. It is an important and respected review source for books.

PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY: http://www.publishersweekly.com/

Publisher’s Weekly provides two large issues in the Spring and Fall devoted to the new children’s books offered that season. The issue is sectioned according to publishers who provide book cover photos and information on their new books. A forecast of future books for the next season is given, as well as more in-depth reviews on some of the books listed that season.

Look at Forecast Submission Guidelines on website.

CHILDREN’S LITERATURE: http://www.childrenslit.com/news.htm

Monthly newsletter with 50 or more reviews of recent children’s books. Receives 3000 books annually. Each month is grouped in themes. A list of the 2000 themes can be found on the website.

And, don’t forget your local reviewers. Local newspapers and magazines can help you promote the word about your book, especially in your area. Many times a review may be picked up by another newspaper.

© Copyright 2003, Kathryn Lay

Kathryn Lay is the author of 26 books for children, over 2000 articles, essays and stories for children and adults and the book from AWOC.COM Publishing, The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer. Check out her website at www.kathrynlay.com and email through rlay15@aol.com

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