There are so many good books for children and young adults that it can be hard for teachers and parents to know which ones will interest the young readers with whom they work. Fortunately, three professors at Brigham Young University put together a database of nearly 28,000 books that can be searched by choosing grade level, topic, genre, or by any awards it has received. Mike Tunnell, Jim Jacobs, and Terry Young are the masterminds behind this app at BYU Creative Works.
Mike explained to me in an email, “The app’s data is updated every few months. It will alert the user that an update to the data is available and by selecting and pressing the update button, the job is done.”
If your students are into space exploration, just type that into the topic field and a list of related topics comes right up. Then you can refine the search by genre. If a student is interested in informational books on the topic, they pop right up. You might want picture books about space, and those come right up as well.
Mike says, “The search tool allows for searches defined by several descriptors at once. For instance, one could search for Civil War books that are historical fiction for grades 3-4 and have won Newbery Honor Awards.”
By selecting a title, you are taken to a view that shows more information about any relevant book including the title, author, illustrator if there is one, a short description, and appropriate grade levels. Other related topics also appear to help expand or narrow the search. A neat feature of the app is that a link to Amazon takes you right to the page where you can order the book if it’s not in your school library.
The “browse” feature lets you search by title words; for example if you can’t quite remember the exact title, you can input those words you do remember to find the book. You can browse by your favorite author or illustrator, and by keyword, as well. When you find books that are of interest, just click the “add to my lists” button. The list will be stored there for your use later.
Kids’ Book Finder is available for iPhone and iPad. Just search for it in the app store or on iTunes. An Android version is in the works.