November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

SLJ Controversial Book Survey: Comments About Age-Appropriateness

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SLJ‘s 2016 Controversial Books survey asked school librarians how they determined if a book is age-appropriate for their students.

Here’s what they had to say. Use the interactive controls provided to sort the comments below. Selecting an option in one of the three dropdown menus will filter the results to show only the comments for that region, locality, or school level. These filters can also be combined to see a very specific list. To clear any filter, simply choose the “ALL” option.

LIBRARIAN COMMENTS REGION LOCALITY SCHOOL LEVEL
FILTER RESULTS (select filters for one or more fields; select ALL to clear a filter):
“Adult relationships” that are not “age appropriate” in American culture for children. For instance, I would not purchase or even accept a donated copy of “Waiting to Exhale” by Terry McMillan for my middle school collection. However, I believe that Angela Johnson’s First Part Last is appropriate for some middle school students. Northeast Suburban M
1. Check www.commonsensemedia.com to see if there are reviews 2. Read reviews on Amazon and other sites 3. Read reviews from professional sources when I look on Follett’s site for the book 4. Check out the book from the public library and read it myself. Midwest Small Town EM
1. I read reviews for information on content 2. I look at age recommendations from publisher and reviewers 3. I read the book myself if I’m in doubt or I will talk with a colleague who had read the book. South Central Suburban EM
Age and maturity of middle school students. Midwest Suburban M
Age of characters, themes of book, reading level, vocabulary. Midwest Suburban E
Age of characters, writing complexity, and reviewed age groups. Northeast Urban EM
Age of main character, cover appeal, “adult” themes. Pacific Small Town H
Age of main characters and situation characters are in. Midwest Suburban H
Age of protagonist. South Atlantic Urban H
Age of protagonist, situations in the book, high school focus. Pacific Small Town H
Age of the main character, age of students potentially reading it. Midwest Suburban EMH
Age recommendations from review sources such as SLJ. South Central Urban M
Age recommendations from SLJ and Booklist primarily, but I also consider Kirkus. Middle school is a tricky age group to serve, so I try to make sure that the books will speak to my students’ concerns in a way they can comprehend. My worry is that books with content that is too mature won’t help them make sense of complex issues but instead feed negative social or other dynamics. Pacific Suburban EM
Amazon suggested age, professional reviews (SLJ, etc.), read personally Northeast Small Town E
AR levels, book reviews, personal review. Mountain Small Town E
At an elementary school, I choose books with characters and/or topics relevant to kids at elementary school ages. Midwest Urban EM
As I teach at a secondary school, grades 10-12, most books are age appropriate. Having said that, sometimes I will not choose a book because it’s not ‘school’ appropriate. Canada Urban H
As much as possible I try to depend on reviews. South Atlantic Suburban EMH
At the 6-8 level, it can be difficult, because 6th graders in the fall are light years away from 8th graders in the spring headed into high school. Violence does not seem to be an issue that causes upset in our community, but sexual content on page is where we typically draw the line. I try to keep language minimal, but that usually isn’t the deciding factor, since other factors typically come up first. I look at SLJ reviews and Booklist reviews (compare on Titlewave), and sometimes read Common Sense Media reviews if I am on the fence. Other times I will read the book, or ask for student input on whether there is any content that a younger reader might not be able to handle. Mountain Suburban M
Based on experience with the age group I serve, comparable content in other materials, interest shown by age group I serve. Northeast Urban H
Based on my personal experience as a parent and teacher- knowing developmental levels of children and what I feel most people would be comfortable exposing their children to. Midwest Suburban EM
Based on reviews. Pacific Small Town E
Based on reviews from trusted source, previewing materials myself, and reading book reviews in public forums such as Goodreads and Amazon. When I have questions about content, I read the book myself and compare it to others in our existing collection. South Atlantic Suburban M
Based on reviews. If I have read a book and find it appropriate regardless of the suggested age, I will consider adding it to the collection. Northeast Suburban E
Based on the reviews. Even though students request Fifty Shades of Grey we will not be purchasing for the high school library. I tell students if they are interested they can check it out at the public library. Pacific Suburban H
Book reviews. South Central Small Town E
Book reviews. Mountain Urban EM
Book reviews. South Atlantic Suburban EMH
Book reviews are a factor to determine what’s age appropriate. Northeast Suburban M
Book reviews, like from SLJ. Midwest Suburban E
Book reviews, book looks. Midwest Suburban E
Book reviews, colleague input. South Central Suburban E
book reviews, pre-read, peer input. Mountain Small Town E
Book reviews, ratings of manga books, etc. South Central Suburban H
Book reviews. South Atlantic Suburban E
By considering the whole book. In my professional judgement–and considering our selection policies. Explicit sex, violence, or drug use are not appropriate topics for a middle school audience. Midwest Suburban M
By content, issues discussed, language used South Atlantic Suburban H
By looking at the age level on the book info or by info from other media specialists. South Atlantic Small Town E
By looking at the suggested grade levels in the reviews and by the general summary. Mountain Suburban MH
By reading multiple reviews from professional journals. Midwest Small Town H
By reading multiple reviews or reading an advanced copy if possible. Midwest Urban H
By reading professional reviews. Midwest Suburban EM
by reading reviews and knowing what else the author has written. Midwest Urban H
By reading the book myself, when possible. But mostly from published reviews from trusted sources. It is frustrating when several reviewers say ages 12 and up or grade 7 and up, and another source says grade 10 and up! Mountain Urban MH
By reading the reviews and using the “recommended grades” listed by School Library Journal and Booklist. Northeast Small Town M
By researching and information given by author/publisher. By content of the book. Some books already have or grouped by age and grade level. Pacific Urban M
By reviews from such publications as School Library Journal. Midwest Suburban M
By the situations in books, reading level, subject matter. South Atlantic Rural EM
By using age recommendations from SLJ. Midwest Suburban EM
Character’s age is in the same age range.. Midwest Suburban EM
Characters are around the ages of my students and plots are situations that my age student would have encountered or others their age in a different setting would have encountered. South Central Suburban MH
Check Commonsense Media (love this resource!), read reviews, check with other libraries and librarians. Pacific Suburban EM
Check main character age; check SLJ reviews and recommendations; check other reviews; see who else in my district has it at what level; read some of the content if available. Pacific Suburban M
Check recommended interest level. Read multiple reviews for each book being considered. Speak to faculty/staff/students who have read the book. South Central Rural M
Check reputable sites on internet and make a judgement call. Pacific Small Town M
Check reviews in several places. Midwest Small Town H
Check the publisher. Pacific Urban E
Checking publisher age guidelines, the holdings of other elementary school libraries in our district, reviews, current holdings (series). South Atlantic Suburban E
Children begin to want to understand the world and what has gone wrong at around 14, which is 8th grade in our school. That is when they study revolutions and they are ready to deal with more graphic representations of those controversial subjects. Prior to that it completely depends on how a subject is handled. South Central Suburban EMH
Combination of a few things like age of characters, situational content, etc. Usually just a gut feeling about the title. Northeast Small Town H
Community standards, student feedback. Mountain Rural MH
Consult reviews. South Atlantic Small Town H
Consulting numerous reviews, reading the material myself and knowing my audience here at my school. Northeast Small Town EM
content South Atlantic EMH
Content and illustrations, also language and subject matter South Atlantic Suburban EMH
Content and reviews South Central Small Town E
Content that a child at that age would understand – age appropriate words/actions. Midwest Suburban E
Content, language. Pacific Urban MH
content, language, readability Midwest EMH
content, reading level, interest level South Central Suburban M
Content: if main character is within 3-5 years the age of our oldest students (10/11 years old) South Central Urban E
Curriculum and knowledge of the students who use library Pacific Urban EM
Depends on the cover. Will my high school students pick it up? I purchase books for my low readers and almost adult books for the AP classes. Midwest Suburban H
Discussions about sex and characters having sex is fine. Explicit scenes are not okay. Northeast Suburban H
Elementary – 6th grade is my target range. Read reviews and comments on the book. Pacific Small Town EM
Elementary level-Lexile South Atlantic Suburban E
Experience, reviews in trade pubs or through our book vendors, discussion with other librarians in my district. Pacific Suburban M
First I look for Young Adult references in catalog listings, then I look through the books myself. The two factors that sway me are humor and positive outcome. I won’t buy a YA book for my middle school if the content is too heavy or dark. Pacific Suburban M
First: Age listed by publisher Second: Age listed on Follett’s Titlewave Third: Kirkus Reviews Last: personal observation (if I have read the book and disagree with the above) Northeast Suburban H
For books that are considered “adult,” I determine if it is age appropriate based on the complexity of the material and whether I think it would appeal to my students. Northeast Rural H
For books that I haven’t read I rely on the age recommendation of multiple book reviewers. South Atlantic Rural H
For middle school, the main thing is that the language not be too inappropriate and that the sexual content not be too explicit. Pacific Suburban M
For my elementary students, I do not choose books with vulgarity, especially sexual words, sexuality, violence, and other mature topics. South Central Suburban EMH
For my middle school students, grades 6 to 8, I think of books having a PG rating. Mild language, mild romance, etc. Books need to contain situations middle schoolers would find themselves in. Pacific Small Town M
From reviews Midwest Urban H
From the reviews, and I also sometimes use CommonSense Media. South Atlantic Rural E
Generally reading reviews (professional and reader reviews, including children), reading summaries of the books. If I have the opportunity, reading the material itself. Midwest Small Town E
Generally, I look at reviews (SLJ, NoveList, etc.) to help me decide if a book would be appropriate for my students. Northeast Suburban M
Generally, use reviews from School Library Journal and/or Booklist Northeast Small Town M
Grade levels in SLJ and Booklist Pacific Suburban H
Guidelines on title wave and review journals South Atlantic Suburban E
I typically start with reviews from Horn Book, SLJ and see what reviews say. I will often buy the controversial book to ready myself. Pacific Suburban EM
I always read reviews. If there is ever a question after we have ordered a book, we look at overall, complete book and not specific parts. If we feel book is not appropriate to the high school students we serve, we do not put it on the shelf. We have many books with issues, but our students live many of these issues. If a concerned parent or teacher questions a selection, we point to reviews and offer students other choices of books from our collection or even invite them to visit the local public library. Midwest Urban H
I always read the reviews from SLJ and other reviewing journals. South Central Small Town EM
I am elementary so it is pretty easy. I don’t put books on the shelves with sexual content, violence, bad language etc. I try to keep books that would encourage, provoke thought, have historical value and initiate conversation. South Atlantic Rural E
I am in a high school library and sometimes purchase adult books with young adult appeal. If the book isn’t reviewed as such through credible sources, I may not purchase it because it is an adult book. If I have read the book and think that my students would like the book, I might purchase it. An example of this is the book “The Martian” by Andy Weir. I purchased this book for the HS library after I read it, without reading a review. Midwest Urban H
I am in a high school, so I have a bit more leeway. I choose books for middle school up to adult, but I look at content and language mostly to determine if books are appropriate for my library. I tend to be very liberal with my choices, selecting titles that are a little edgy. Mountain Urban H
I am in a middle school 6-8 grade. Sometimes if the main characters are high school students doing more provocatively sexual things or using drugs, I might not buy the book. I look at the age range many reviews include. With Fault in Our Stars I broke that rule. The movie made it too much in demand and I thought the sexual piece was well done and minimal. I try to push the envelope with LGBT topics and foul language if it is well done. South Atlantic Suburban M
I base age level on reading level, accelerated reading classification, content – try to pre-read all books or get recommendations from other teachers who have read the book. South Central Suburban EM
I base my decision upon what I feel is the standard opinion of appropriateness for our school community. South Central Small Town EM
I begin by searching for books that are about characters who are the age of the students I teach. If the book is about a character who is years older facing challenges and issues that are not realistic or relevant to a middle school student, I need to look carefully to see that the content is not too advanced. Midwest Suburban M
I check a minimum of 3 review sources, such as SLJ and BookList. If I am not certain that a book will be appropriate, I read the book prior to making it available to students. If I decide that it isn’t age-appropriate, I give it to the high school library. Northeast Suburban M
I check multiple websites to make sure that it is for elementary aged kids Pacific Suburban EM
I check out professional reviews. South Central Small Town H
I check several book sites for recommended ages, grade levels. Urban M
I check the Goodreads site or other libraries to see if they have it or not. Canada Small Town EM
I check with the school counselor, I test it out on peer reviewers and I know the interests of my readers. South Atlantic Suburban H
I compare book reviews and check for recommended age level. Also, if I have the opportunity to physically look at the book, I will browse the content. South Central Rural M
I consider psychological and social development. Students need to read books that are developmentally appropriate. They need to be ready to grapple with and be introduced to the topics/language. South Central Rural EM
I consider Publisher suggestions for age range and also look up reviews from SLJ, Horn Book, etc. Pacific Urban E
I consider the age of the protagonist, the themes. Midwest Suburban H
I currently work at a middle school so I generally don’t buy books that are intended for adults. When I worked at an elementary school previously, I steered away from materials generally considered YA. I do have 5th graders on my middle school campus so they have access to books that they would not have access to at the elementary level. Pacific
I currently work at a middle school so I generally don’t purchase books intended for adults, excepting the classics. I used to work at an elementary school so I would generally steer away from books considered YA. I do have 5th graders at my middle school so they have access to materials that they would not have access to at the elementary school. Pacific Urban EM
I defer to guidelines on Follett, Permabound and School Library Journal Mountain Urban E
I determine if it is age appropriate by reading all of the most conservative reviews that I can find. I also talk to colleagues to get their opinions on controversial books. South Atlantic Urban M
I do tend to look at what different journals recommend as age appropriate as my first guideline. If a book is outside our age range and is requested by a student or teacher, I will read it myself to see if I can see why it was recommended for a high school or adult audience. (We are middle school). Sometimes it’s merely that the book itself is a little more sophisticated in its content, so it is intended for a more mature audience…I’d probably go ahead with that one. However, depending on how the sexual content/violence/drug use is presented (Is the book romanticizing suicide? Is the book glorifying drug culture, or is the sexual content graphic? Is this book promoting abuse or rape culture?) In other words, does a “gritty” book present societal problems with real-world consequences, do the benefits of the story outweigh the negatives? Midwest Small Town M
I either read it, depend on the endorsement of other professionals in similar school settings, or on reputable review sources such as SLJ, and children’s literature databases. South Atlantic
I first read it myself. Then refer to professional journals such as yours, Hornbook, NY times and Chicago Tribune reviews. Midwest Urban EM
I follow the grade-level information in book reviews. South Central Suburban MH
I generally look at reviews and check recommendations for age/grade level appropriateness. Midwest Suburban M
I generally use the age guidelines that appear in the blurb about the book. Books with more mature content I make note to only check out to upper elementary grades (example: Shiloh, Because of Winn Dixie) South Atlantic Suburban E
I go by a gut feeling and by how well I know my students. The grittier books I recommend to the students that I know have home lives that are reflected in the literature. South Atlantic Small Town H
I go with reviews–if the reviews have grade 8 and/or age 13/14 (as some 8th graders are 14), I trust the reviewer. Some students will say a book was inappropriate. I ask if they enjoyed it and would recommend it. If so, it stays. South Central Urban M
I have a difficult time deciding what to purchase due to the age range in our building. We are a 7-9 campus so some books I label for 9th grade only. I read reviews and check Amazon, Good Reads and other sites for help. South Central Small Town MH
I have a list of reviewing agencies (8 agencies) and 3 or more of them must include 8th grade age range as appropriate or I won’t have it in my 6-8 library. Midwest Small Town M
I have a Literature Committee of middle school parents who want to read for the library. I ask them to read and evaluate books that have a reviewer’s recommendation of 8th grade and higher (we are a K-8 school). We look at a book for its message and whether the violence or language are authentic and necessary for the story. Gratuitous violence and graphic sex may be grounds for discarding a book. It doesn’t really happen often. South Central Urban EM
I have taught all levels and I just use my best judgment. I often read the book first so I know what is in it. I also check with a website such as Commonsensemedia.com if I have questions about it. I have a few parents who know what our school/community guidelines are and they have helped me read and evaluate books. Pacific Small Town EM
I know it when I see it. Northeast Suburban MH
I like to use a three step format: 1) student interest, 2) book content, 3) fluency. However, if a student insists on reading topics outside of his/her age, then I set limitations by saying “I don’t want you to read this book at your age.” Knowing the authors helps, too. Sometimes, they cross the line. South Central Rural E
I look at book recommendations in Follett Titlewave from SLJ, Booklist, etc. I also consider age level, reading level, audience level, etc. from MARC records. Finally, I use ALA website recommendations and OELMA Listserv. Midwest Small Town EM
I look at book reviews from SLJ, Booklist and Kirkus reviews. If the book is close to being age-appropriate, I may read it myself before making a decision. Pacific Urban EM
I look at many different reviews. Midwest Small Town M
I look at multiple reviews of the item to see where the reviewers placed the interest level. I consider anything that falls anywhere within the grade levels we serve, even if it is at the top. South Atlantic Urban M
I look at my clientele and I have a knowledge of my students. I also take in the age, grade level, and interests of my students. By talking with them, conducting surveys, and gauging their interests, I can find out what they want to read or explore. South Central Small Town MH
I look at published reviews and also consult our district’s book approval database. South Atlantic Suburban E
I look at reading levels, other school librarians choices, look at the graphics, sometimes I read parts of it and if not sure, avoid until I can look further into the book when I have time. Pacific Suburban E
I look at reviews along with knowledge of community standards. Midwest Rural EMH
I look at reviews and check to see where the reviewer believed the range to be. I depend heavily on SLJ for that sort of information! Mountain Small Town M
I look at reviews and what age range is suggested for the book. Midwest Urban E
I look at reviews from different sources. Midwest Rural EMH
I look at reviews from people I trust, like SLJ, Horn Books, Kirkus, etc. South Central Suburban E
I look at the age of the main characters, the subject matter of the book and the author’s target group if that information is available. Midwest Suburban E
I look at the age/grade rating given by book reviewer. South Central Urban M
I look at the characters age and the grade/age limit dictated by the book. Midwest Suburban M
I look at the content and consider the maturity and needs of my students. Midwest Urban M
I look at the emotional content and AR level (if available) Midwest Suburban E
I look at the interest level, pictures and reviews Pacific Suburban EM
I look at the maturity level of the content and decide if it is appropriate for students, I read reviews, and I ask students questions about the topics. I do have books that I keep separate and will check out if a teacher recommends for a specific set of students.
I look at the reviews from reliable sources. I will also read the book if I am not sure and make a determination. Midwest Suburban E
I look at the reviews that indicate the grade level it is marketed towards, and whether that fits into our purchasing guidelines for our school’s grade levels. Being only a K-8 school, that can be difficult with YA books. Northeast Rural EM
I look at the reviews to determine if the book is on level and has appropriate content for my elementary students. I try to locate and read at least two reviews. If I am still puzzled, I borrow the book from the public library and read the fly information. If still not sure, I may read at least some of the book or all. In my twenty years as a LMS, I have only had two or three books that I have sent to the upper grades when the order came. South Central Suburban E
I look at the SLJ and Follett age guidelines. If I’m previewing the book, then I’ll read and skim to determine guidelines. South Atlantic Rural H
I look at what Follett, BookList and SLJ recommend, and I also consider the interests of our students and my gut feelings. Midwest Rural MH
I look at what knowledge is needed to understand the content of the book. I then look at whether or not the students have the maturity to handle the content of the book. Midwest Urban EM
I look for at least 2 positive reviews from reliable review sources. If the characters are teenage to young adult it is more permissible for them to engage in risky behaviors. If the characters are adults engaging in adult activities I am more likely to pass. South Atlantic Suburban H
I look for reviews by trusted entities– ALA, VOYA, SLJ. . .and others to see what the suggested ages are for a book. Pacific Small Town EMH
I look for subjects my students are interested, I look for current issue topics, I look for historical subject matter South Central Rural H
I look through School Library Journal, Titlewave – checking the reviews (Kirkus and others) and the BTOL site for their grading of where the book should be. And when really in doubt, I read the book first. Northeast Suburban M
I often look at book reviews like SLJ to see what age level they recommend. If all reviews list about the same age, which they often do, then I will use that to help me to determine whether or not it is appropriate for the age I am purchasing for. Midwest Rural EMH
I read 3-4 reviews on the book. Most include an age range for the book. I service a Junior high school ages ranging from 11-14. I have pushed the limit if I have read the book and deem it appropriate for my students. I tend to buy books that are appropriate for grades 5-9. Pacific Suburban M
I read as many reviews as I can find and if I have questions after that, I use CommonSense Media to ferret out specifics. I also rely on my knowledge of the community in which I live, work, and parented. It’s one and the same. Northeast Small Town EM
I read as many reviews as possible to determine the suggested audience. Mountain Suburban H
I read at least three different book reviews. Midwest Small Town EMH
I read book reviews from School Library Journal, The Horn Book, etc. Mountain Urban H
I read book reviews from SLJ, Titlewave, Kirkus. If I am still not sure, I read the book. Midwest Small Town EM
I read book reviews from various sources, or I read the book myself. South Central Small Town EM
I read it! Prior to purchasing I try to read several reviews. South Central Rural MH
I read it, rely on recommendations of other professionals in similar school settings, and use review sources like SLJ or children’s literature databases. South Atlantic Suburban EM
I read it. I check reviews from trusted sites. It is an elementary school so no sex allowed! I can have a little leeway on other issues depending on the level of the book. Mountain Suburban E
I read it. :-) I know my patrons well enough to guide them too. South Atlantic Urban H
I read lots of reviews, ask for teacher and student input, AND READ, READ, READ. Midwest Suburban M
I read multiple reviews. There are very few items I would not buy for my high school library. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY comes to mind as inappropriate. Northeast Urban H
I read professional reviews and compare their opinions to what the publisher lists as the age range. If there are discrepancies, or if I am undecided, then I try to read an advance copy from Net Galley, or I will buy an ebook copy for myself and read it before I buy it for the library. Pacific Suburban M
I read professional reviews that suggest the appropriate age/grade levels. If they suggest that the material is excessive/graphic in nature and/or for only very mature teens, I will tend to by-pass the book. Northeast Rural MH
I read professional reviews to see the age-level; if available, I read an ARC. Pacific Suburban H
I read reviews (Booklist, SLJ, Kirkus, etc). If the reviews indicate it is age appropriate but I still have doubts, I take the issue to other teachers and our AP. Northeast Suburban E
I read reviews and also review the book myself. South Atlantic Rural E
I read reviews and check vendors online, and chat with colleagues South Atlantic Suburban M
I read reviews and look for middle school ratings (5-8). I shy away from most YA books and anything meant for high school. Most of the students who use this school library are in grades 6 and 7, even though we are a 6-8 school. Northeast Suburban M
I read reviews and suggested grades/age levels. After reading reviews, I try to determine if the content is appropriate for our middle-school students. South Atlantic Rural M
I read reviews and try to look at new books, Midwest Suburban E
I read reviews but that doesn’t always disclose something that may be an issue. Mountain Small Town M
I read reviews from magazines and from other purchasers. I also try to preview when possible. I look at the reading and interest level. I also read the summaries on sales listings, watching for subjects that I might find inappropriate for my grade levels. Northeast Suburban E
I read reviews from multiple sources like School Library Journal and Hornbook and Publisher’s Weekly as a starting point. Then if I am interested in a book but not sure about its appropriateness for middle school, I will read it myself. Since we have a range of readers, I rarely find a book truly inappropriate but go on a personal feeling of what 6th-8th graders are interested in. If a book has strong sexual content, I sometimes pass on it if it seems more like an upper-high school situation. Pacific Suburban M
I read reviews from other librarians to see what they think the age range is for the book. For books that I am not sure about, I read the book and decide if the objectionable material is age appropriate and how it fits in with the story. As a middle school librarian, I don’t choose books that have gratuitous sex, language, or violence just for the sake of it. If these are used to make the story more realistic, then I take that into account. Northeast Urban M
I read reviews from SLJ, Booklist, and other review sources. Mountain Small Town H
I read reviews in School Library Journal Northeast Suburban H
I read reviews of the book from School Library Journal actually. I always look for Booklist, Horn Book and SLJ, but SLJ is the one review that I ALWAYS heavily depend on to let me know if the book is age appropriate and if there is anything “inappropriate” or worriesome in the book. SLJ has never let me down in this regard and I very, very much appreciate the reviewers giving the honest reviews they do. I am in a public elementary school library and in spite of what ALA says about censorship, I do use my personal judgement when ordering books for my PreK through 5th grade students. Call it censorship, I choose to call it responsible and well thought out. Thank you, SLJ, I sincerely don’t know what I’d do without your reviews when making my book orders. South Central Suburban E
I read reviews on different sites including School Library Journal, Library journal review, Publishers’ weekly review, Booklist review, Common sense media, Amazon to name a few. I wish there was a more straightforward and faster way of doing it. It is a long process. Pacific Suburban M
I read reviews on Follett before purchasing. I sometimes look to see if other high schools in my district have a book in their collection before purchasing. Mountain Suburban H
I read reviews on titlewave, common sense media, and use AR interest level guidelines. Northeast Rural EM
I read reviews on Titlewave. Mountain Urban MH
I read reviews which typically suggest an audience Northeast Small Town M
I read reviews, check AR, read it myself. South Central Rural MH
I read reviews, check Common Sense Media and go with my gut. South Atlantic Suburban H
I read reviews, check various sources, and often look for someone who had read or read it myself. Pacific Urban H
I read reviews, if uncertain I read the book. Pacific Suburban M
I read reviews. SLJ is my gold standard because those books are reviewed by teen and school librarians rather than professional reviewers. If a book is marked grades 10-12 then I don’t purchase it. If it’s marked grades 9 and up, I may put it in my Young Adult, 8th Grade only for our 6-8th Middle School. Midwest Suburban M
I read School Library Journal, Booklist, etc to get a feel for the content of the book. I also base my decision on their recommendation of grade level. Midwest Small Town H
I read summaries on Amazon or other sites. Also, read reviews on sights such as Focus on the Family. Pacific Suburban M
I read the book. Midwest Suburban EM
I read the reviews listed in Follett and look at the age recommendations and the description of the book. Pacific Urban E
I read the summary and consider content. I also read reviews and select books with positive reviews. Reviews generally include an age recommendation. Midwest Suburban H
I read the summary, and use book reviews to find out the theme of the book. Sometimes I read the entire book before putting it in the elementary check out. Common sense media is helpful, but does not have every book. I wish I had a good resource to inform me of possible issues. I can’t read every book. South Atlantic Suburban E
I rely heavily on reviewers determination, and their candid, honest assessment of the content, in particular the degree of profanity and sexual content. Pacific Small Town M
I rely heavily on School Library Journal’s book reviews, but generally try to avoid books that are too young or too adult for high school students. Midwest Urban H
I rely on 3 to 5 reviews or recommendations. I have been disappointed a couple times this last year in books recommended for my middle school students South Central Small Town M
I rely on information found from SLJ, Amazon, and other sites. Northeast Small Town M
I rely on recommended age or grade level from professional reviews such as School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Library Media connection, Booklist to name a few. Northeast Suburban E
I rely on recommended ages from publishers and reviewers. If I can’t find an age range in reviews of YA lit, I either borrow it and read it myself or I don’t buy it. Northeast Small Town M
I rely on reviews of the book to determine the type of content that is included. I also consider the quality of the book and whether the content is gratuitous or essential to the story. South Central Suburban MH
I rely on SLJ book reviews, and read the books when they come in. I work in a K-8 library, and some books are 6-8 grades only. Midwest Suburban EM
I rely primarily on the age/grade level recommendations of reviews in School Library Journal, Booklist, or Horn Book. I also use Publisher’s Weekly, but to a lesser extent. Northeast Rural EM
I start with the Reviews (see the previous “Other” answer). If I can show a parent, etc. that top reviewers in the field have overwhelmingly rated the book as “appropriate for Grade 7+” for example, then nobody can fault me for including it in the middle school collection! When reviews are inconclusive (age recommendations are all over the place) or they’re mostly “Grade 8+” with a few “Grade 9+”–right on the bubble– then I personally get the book from the public library and preview it myself. At that point I’m a little conservative because I know I don’t have firm expert opinion to back up my choices, so I look out for too much F-word (although I’ve allowed it once or twice if warranted) and too much sexual content for middle school (i.e. “going all the way”) Midwest
I take into account student interest and that we have many different levels of maturity in a 9-12 school. I read reviews, peer recommendations, and award winners. Pacific Urban H
I take into consideration publisher’s recommendation, reviewers’ recommendation and sometimes the relationship of the content to curriculum/standards. Midwest Small Town E
I teach elementary school, so generally if there is any mention of physical/sexual contact between characters, I will not order it. Northeast Suburban E
I think about my students and reflect upon what I learned in my child development classes about cognition and environments. I also talk to other librarians and look at the reviews/suggested age ranges on books. South Atlantic Small Town E
I think about the students in my school and their awareness of or exposure to certain issues. If I feel that a book’s content deals with issues that my students aren’t usually exposed to, I typically don’t buy it. South Atlantic Rural E
I try to consider the developmental stage of our students. Kids are not adults and may not be ready for certain topics. However, since I am in a high school, most things are within bounds. South Central Suburban H
I try to read as many of the books as I can especially if I am at all concerned about the appropriateness of the book. South Central Suburban EM
I try to read at least four different reviews and make my decision based on the collective content of those reviews. Midwest Small Town M
I try to read reviews and if possible the book itself. Pacific Suburban M
I try to think about what I would want my own children to read and then I act pretty conservatively. I might be more liberal if I was at middle school or high school though instead of elementary school. Pacific Suburban EM
I use age-guidelines from reviews. Midwest Rural MH
I use book review sources for content information as well as recommended reading levels. South Central Suburban M
I use journals and review articles Canada Small Town EMH
I use magazines with book reviews plus just look at book summaries from book companies. Midwest
I use more than one way to determine if it is age appropriate like using various reputable book reviewers, the company that I purchasing from and reading the book myself. Midwest Rural EM
I use my own judgment and also research book reviews Midwest Suburban EM
I use reputable review sources if I haven’t read it. I also refer to Common Sense Media if reviewed there. I often read it first to determine appropriateness for my K-5 students. South Central Suburban E
I use resources such as the Junior Library Guild, Peer Reviews, and Follett Titlewave for age-appropriate suggestions and then make my determination from that. South Atlantic Rural E
I use reviews (like SLJ) to guide, but not dictate my decisions. I use my knowledge of my students and school community to make my final decisions. Northeast Suburban E
I use reviews, age of character, book summary and reading level. Northeast Suburban E
I use reviews, primarily. If the content makes me wonder, but it fits in our curriculum/guidelines, and the reviews put it at our grade level, then I usually decide it’s okay. South Central Suburban E
I use School Library Journal to double check recommended grade levels. I try to read the book myself if I have a serious concern. South Atlantic Suburban E
I use selection tools to determine age appropriateness…then I read reviews if I am really unsure. Midwest Small Town MH
I use SLJ and other reviewing resources Midwest Small Town M
I use the age judgement on the book reviews in SLJ and in Sneak Peak in Alexandria South Atlantic
I usually go by the recommendations of the publisher as well as some reputable book reviewers. If I’m unsure, I read or skim the book myself. In general I think pushing readers outside of their comfort zone is a good thing (within reason). Canada Rural EMH
I usually look at AR Bookfinder to determine the AR level, interest level, and summary to see what the book is about and sometimes I can find out if it has violence, profanity, or sexual content. I am at the middle school level, Grades 6-8 and the developmental stage of a 6th grader is much different than that of an 8th grade student. South Central Small Town M
I usually look at several reviews and consider those recommendations. Midwest Small Town MH
I usually read book reviews to evaluate age appropriateness of a book that I am considering adding to my collection. I usually trust books from Junior Library Guild. Small Town H
I usually read it – especially if it is for our middle school library. Northeast Suburban EM
I usually read it first, or read reviews, or check commonsense media Northeast Small Town EM
I usually use the age guides on the reviews and also look for information about books that have been challenged in other schools. South Central Small Town E
I weigh review sources, read the book myself if I am especially concerned, and consider curriculum content. I am also aware from news in general of what kids know, even if adults right around them don’t want to admit it. Again, back to “George”, it is clear that elementary school children can have gender identity concerns and acknowledging this by having well-reviewed material in the library seems important to me. Pacific Suburban EM
I will not include a book in our middle school collection if it has obvious sexual intercourse. I will also not include books that have extreme profanity. We have some with a few milder words – “ass”, “piss”, “damn” but nothing beyond that. I also feel that our students are too young to process characters who deal with problems through drug use and suicide but those would be determined by the context in which it is used in the book. Hard core drug use – no, but being with a group of friends who are using and resisting the peer pressure to participate even – yes. It really depends on how it’s handled in the book. South Central Suburban M
I will read the book or ask another teacher on staff to read the book or look for reviews that discuss the age of the book or ask other librarians if they’ve read it for appropriate content. South Atlantic Rural M
I work in a high school library in a relatively liberal part of NY. I firmly believe that books are some of the safest places for students to learn about controversial topics. I do look at grade level recommendations on Follett’s Titlewave as a guide. Northeast Suburban H
I work in a K-4 school library, and I know the children very well. So I find it easy to decide if they will like it or understand it. Northeast Suburban E
I work in a K-5 Elementary School. I try to check reviews to see what is appropriate. Many reviews give age guidelines and reading level guidelines. Another guideline I learned somewhere is that children like to read about people who are their age or two or three years older. If the characters are much older than 13/14 it is probably not appropriate for our age group. Northeast Suburban E
I work in an elementary school. So anything that has too much violence or has characters that do more than holding hands are book that i stay away from. South Central Urban E
If a fiction book has graphic sexual content, I would not select it for students below 8th grade. Northeast Urban EMH
If fiction, I look at the age of the main characters, if the experiences of the main characters are age appropriate for elementary students. South Atlantic Suburban E
If I don’t have time to read it, I look at multiple reviews and a text sample. If reviews vary, I am more likely to check out the book first. Also, a wise librarian suggested that I look for characters within 2 years of the target audience. Northeast Urban E
If I have a question on something, I ask a teacher or another staff member to review it to verify or help me decide. Northeast Suburban H
If I wouldn’t want my children to read it, I don’t purchase it. Midwest Urban E
If it deals with subject matter that my students are familiar with and in a manner similar to the way they would. South Atlantic Rural E
If it doesn’t contain any sexual content, bad language, or mature themes. South Central Small Town M
If it has minimal swearing and little or no sexual content. Mountain Suburban MH
If it seems too young, I’ll often pass on it. I usually look at the main character’s age. South Central Small Town H
If it was written for their age group and contains topics that are relevant to our students. South Atlantic Rural H
If reviewers say middle school grade levels than I usually feel it belongs in our library. If it lists 9-12 then I read some additional reviews looking for the reasons for the high school recommendation. Usually I agree. When 8-11 is listed as a recommendation I search out additional reviews for the same reason. Books are becoming more and more sophisticated in subject matter and language these days. Pacific Suburban M
If the book has questionable content, I read as many reviews as possible and often, read the books themselves. Northeast Suburban M
If the book is about topics that fit into our K-5 curriculum, and is within the reading levels of our students, then I would consider it age-appropriate for nonfiction. It’s a little trickier with fiction. Reading level may be fine, but if it contains mature content that I feel isn’t appropriate for elementary readers, I usually don’t purchase it. South Atlantic Suburban E
If the characters are teens or young adults. If the violence, sexual content, or language are a believable part of the story. I also look at review sources and the recommendations of other librarians Pacific Small Town H
If the controversial matter is being dealt with by a main character who is more than 1 or 2 years older than the students, I do not purchase it. Northeast Rural EM
If the first pages are available on Amazon, I read through them to get a feel for the book. I also use Common Sense Media’s Best Books for Kids website. Pacific Suburban EMH
If there is a question, I consult multiple reviewing tools. I also have the opportunity to consult with the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Midwest Urban H
I’m a K-12 librarian with only one location, so I’m constantly thinking about age appropriateness and where to put certain titles in my library. Midwest
I’m mostly looking at interest and vocabulary. I work in a high school, so I’m more likely to reject a book as age-inappropriate if it is too juvenile. Midwest Suburban H
In fiction, I go by several factors such as age of protagonist, suggested audience level per reviews, type of conflict/experiences in the plot. Mountain Small Town E
In our district, we use professional reviews from resources such as your journal as a factor to determining selection of materials. Our county policy states that a book must have two positive reviews to be considered for purchase. We also have a team of librarians who read and write reviews “in house”. Those books are put in a preview center for librarians to peruse. I don’t purchase anything without reading it or having a fellow colleague read it. South Atlantic Suburban E
Interest and grade level designations from book review journals, online sources, and book supplier sites. Northeast Urban EM
It is certainly a fluid process, but based in heart on a knowledge of my students and their changing culture. I refer to reviews for age range guidelines, though they are not always consistent. I do have certain strict standards (k-6 school) and will only check out those books purchased for our 6th YA population to other students with a parent note. Northeast Rural EM
It was more difficult when I started. I have a 6-8 library that is shared with a 9-12 library (different librarians who purchase for own collection). 6th grade is pretty young, but we do have the option of making something YA, then 8th graders can still check it out from the HS side. Midwest Suburban MH
Journal reviews, recommendations from other librarians, students, teachers Northeast Suburban H
Journeyed review, student and teacher recommendations, my own reading of a book Midwest Small Town M
Knowledge of child development and the children in our school community. Midwest Suburban EMH
Lean on the experts…read reviews South Central Small Town H
Level of detail in sex scenes, amount of graphic violence, South Atlantic Rural M
Lexile range and content Northeast Suburban H
Lexile, writing style, language, content South Central Urban EMH
Library Journal and other reviews. School curriculum. Mountain Suburban E
look at age level on titlewave, amazon, … check to see if it contains mature content, e.g. sex on page, every other word is f***. read the book myself. Pacific Suburban M
Look at book reviews for recommended age/grade level and/or read the book myself. Mountain Urban H
look at intended age range, read as many reviews as possible South Central Small Town M
Look at publisher information and also reviews from industry leaders such as Booklist, School Library Journal, Horn Book…also it is important to know your patrons and have a collection development policy. South Atlantic Suburban H
Look at reviews from book vendors Pacific Rural EH
Look at reviews, read the book, check the content Midwest Urban H
look at the journal recommendation, read the book South Atlantic Suburban EM
Look at the target audience, reviews (SLJ, Resource Links, Quill and Quire, CommonSenseMedia.org etc.), seek out teacher feedback, test read with select student group. Canada Urban H
Look up reviews of the material and check to see what ages the publisher recommends. South Central Rural E
Looking at several review sources and reading it myself if necessary. Midwest Suburban M
Looking at summaries of books to see if characters are of the same age, looking at reviews and listed grade levels, looking at subject tags South Central Rural H
Looking at the content, are our kids at that stage of life? Will they understand what the book is really about? Pacific Suburban EM
Main characters are the same age as the students I teach. South Central Suburban EM
Mainly reviews, sometimes input from other teachers Northeast Suburban M
Mainly through reviews from journals Northeast Rural H
Major review sources: School Library Journal, Kirkus, CCBC, book review blogs by children’s literature professionals Midwest Urban EM
Many factors involved, but a couple are Is this actually an “adult” book? What kind of graphics/pictures are included? What else do we already have in the collection on this topic? Are there alternative choices that fill the gap, but are less controversial? etc. Midwest Rural H
maturity of the content and age of main protagonist Midwest Rural MH
Maturity of the students, and how I feel that could handle a particular subject. South Atlantic Small Town M
Most often by the publisher’s recommendation and also based on reviews. Pacific Rural MH
Mostly I go by age of protagonist. Complexity of the text, Suggested grade level in SLJ. I do not trust publisher age recommendations. The range is generally too broad, in my opinion. Is the controversial point a big part of the book or an isolated incident? I try to read books that are controversial myself, to better judge the content. South Central Suburban EMH
Mostly rely on reviews from various sources. Midwest Rural EMH
Mostly rely on the reviews from vendors such as titlewave, and web cites, blogs, and reading the books. South Central Urban MH
Mostly reviews Northeast Small Town MH
My library services kindergarten thru 8th grade. I try to purchase book that have main characters who are also in this same age range. I also rely heavily on the age/grade recommendations given in SLJ reviews. Midwest Small Town EM
My most trusted source of age recommendation is SLJ reviews. I serve at a K-8. I pay close attention and usually follow the reviewer’s advice when he/she says grades 9 and up I usually do not order it–unless I know the book and feel it fits our community anyway. Pacific Suburban EM
my opinion and if necessary book reviews by Amazon, SLJ, PW Northeast Suburban EM
My own judgement/experience; professional book reviews (SLJ, Kirkus, Common Sense Media); recommendation of classroom teachers. Northeast Rural EM
My school serves Pre-Kindergarten to 3rd grade so the books really need to reflect the expectations and rules of our school. Northeast Suburban E
no Northeast Suburban E
NovelList guidelines and professional reviews: Booklist, SLJ, Hornbook etc. If it is not an adult for YA it is more likely to have adult content not appropriate for the high school audience. It is also more likely to have adult protagonists who the high school students feel less connected to. Pacific Small Town H
Of course I look at reviews and distributors recommendations. Then, I think I use gut instinct. Sometimes I see a book as for a younger audience, but rarely for an older audience. South Central Urban EM
Often by reading reviews and looking at suggested age range. Sometimes read book myself. Sexual content and language are often determining factors plus maturity of content, reading level. South Atlantic Suburban EM
Often the age of the main character is a key factor. I sometimes avoid books about high schoolers since I am buying for elementary aged kids. I also read as many reviews as possible, noting reading level and the age level book is geared toward. Sometimes i ask other librarians their opinion, or quickly scan a book’s content if I am purchasing it at a bookstore. Midwest Suburban E
On a case by case basis. I wanted a book about Malala that would be appropriate for 2nd graders. I purchased the double book-Iqbal and Malala. When I read the section about how she was shot, I decided the book might be too frightening for 2nd graders and passed it along to a school with higher grades. I usually try to read any books on possibly controversial topics. Northeast Suburban E
Our school community and students are fairly conservative so gritty urban tales don’t get checked out even if they are the shelves. I try to chose diverse title selections but avoid explicit sexual detail, horrific violence, and stories that glorify unhealthy practices. Pacific Suburban M
Our system requires 2 positive professional reviews. I will follow those and if I am still uncertain, I will read the book myself or ask another teacher or two to read the book. South Atlantic Suburban M
Part of it is reading level, of course, but a larger part is thinking of the entire community I serve. Since mine is a PS-5 school I have to ask myself “if a 5th-grader checked this out would I worry?” But then I also have to ask myself “if a 3rd-grader checked it out would I worry?” If the answer is no to the first and yes to the second I have to pause. Since we have open shelves and I have virtually no library budget I cannot afford to spend book fair earnings and grant money on books that aren’t appropriate for the widest range of kids I serve. I review a lot of books and typically send books up to the middle school that I know won’t fit my kids down here, knowing that my students will have access to that material when they hit middle school and it is a better fit. Sometimes I send things up to the high school they are truly YA with the same thought. I read every single book before it goes on my library shelves and there are things on the shelves that I don’t agree with, and that have the occasional profanity (hey, you gotta have Gary Paulsen, right?) If the content of the book is valuable enough I will still put those books on the shelves and will fight for their retention in the collection. If the author is just trying to be controversial for controversy’s sake find another forum. I don’t have the money to waste on that. Pacific Suburban E
Personal ideals, our district does not have standards set. Midwest Rural MH
Personal judgement based on 25 years plus experience in elementary education and being a mother to 2 sons. South Atlantic Small Town E
Primarily based on reviews by respected sources South Central Small Town M
Primarily by the age of the main characters and their actions. I work in a K-8 school, so if a book seems more directed to high school, I am more prone to skip purchasing it. I also read reviews and depend on SLJ to point in the right direction. Pacific Suburban EM
Professional review sources and/or first-hand knowledge when available (myself or another whose opinion I trust) Midwest Rural MH
Professional reviews Northeast Suburban M
Professional reviews Midwest Rural MH
Professional reviews or if I or a teacher, student, or parent has read it. They know the culture of the school very well and are able to deem it “appropriate” or not. Northeast Urban EM
Professional reviews, opinions of other school librarians. Midwest Urban M
professional reviews, previewing the book myself South Central Suburban M
Professional reviews, reading it myself–as time permits Midwest Suburban M
Professional reviews, use my own judgement, confer with colleagues. South Central Suburban M
Professional reviews, volunteer readers, read myself. First the book must be of interest to high schoolers, and then we think about age appropriateness. Mountain Small Town H
ratings by publishers, book reviews Northeast Suburban M
Read as many reviews as I can find. Search public libraries to see where they have cataloged titles. Ask students who have read the title. Read the title myself. Midwest Suburban M
Read it South Atlantic Suburban EM
Read it. Midwest Suburban E
Read it. Read reviews. Midwest Suburban M
Read journal reviews and read the book myself to gauge age level. Pacific Urban H
Read review articles, read the book. Mountain Suburban H
Read review, Read it myself, have principal read the book for final approval. Pacific Suburban M
read reviews Northeast Suburban H
Read reviews Midwest Suburban H
Read reviews and if still unsure, read book. Pacific Rural EM
Read reviews from school library journal and my own judgement Suburban EM
Read reviews from several sources. Northeast Suburban M
Read reviews in Horn Book and other journals. Talk to teachers and parents. Pacific Urban EM
Read reviews, check bookfinder and other sites for specific content Midwest Rural EMH
Read reviews, look on Title -wave to determine the age recommendation and/or lexile level. Read the book myself. Ask for recommendations from teachers who may have read the book. Mountain Suburban EM
Read reviews, professional and other. South Atlantic Small Town M
Read reviews, read book and do my own professional evaluation, consider the students I have and if it is something that would interest them AND for them to understand at their age. South Central Suburban EM
Read reviews, read excerpts, check to see if another high school library in the district has the same book. South Atlantic Suburban H
Read reviews. Check with other school libraries. Ultimately I use my professional judgement. Northeast Suburban E
Read reviews. See if it is classified as YA or Adult. South Atlantic Rural H
Read reviews; I ask myself if the content is something that is commonplace to most teenagers South Atlantic Rural H
Read the book in question South Central Urban EM
Read the reviews and then read the books before I put them on the shelf. South Atlantic Suburban E
Read the text and look at the illustrations/pictures Midwest Urban E
Read various reviews on a title South Central Urban M
Reading and interest levels; maturity of content Midwest Urban EM
Reading level to some extent plus topics that the school community considers inappropriate such as dating and romantic issues. Where needed I guide young students away from mature-reader books or place those in the separate middle-school library. South Atlantic Urban EM
Reading level topic Northeast Suburban H
Reading levels and recommended age from publishers. South Central Urban E
Reading levels and reviews Pacific Urban EM
Reading reviews – viewing the material firsthand Northeast Suburban MH
Reading reviews , using Follett Destiny and Titlewave. Northeast Suburban E
Reading reviews regarding subject matter or reading the book myself. Mountain Urban EM
Reading reviews such as those in SLJ, knowing the author. Northeast Suburban H
Reading reviews with suggestions for age. Northeast Suburban E
Reading reviews, reading book itself Midwest Small Town E
Reading reviews, reading the book, talking to students, talking to other librarians, considering how the book is cataloged at other libraries or how it is marketed at bookstores. South Atlantic Suburban EM
Reading reviews, reading the book, understanding my students Northeast Suburban EM
Reading reviews. If a school review (SLJ) recommends for grades 9 and up, it will not be purchased for MS. Midwest Rural H
reading the book, book review recommendations, publisher recommendations Northeast Suburban EM
Recommendations from critics, periodicals, and my own opinions. Midwest Suburban E
Recommended age groups; JLG; Kirkus, SLJ South Atlantic Small Town E
Recommended ages and grade levels listed in reviews. If they differ I go with the lowest age or grade recommended. Northeast Rural EM
Recommended ages, genre categories South Central Small Town H
Refer through the Accelerated Reader reading level and age appropriateness guidance it gives. If in doubt still, I will read the book myself before making a decision. Mountain Urban EM
Relying on reviews and my own professional experience Northeast Urban E
Review journals South Central Suburban M
Review journals, online reviews Midwest Suburban EM
Review sources: School Library Journal, CommonSenseMedia.or, AR BookFinder South Central Small Town MH
Reviews South Central Suburban E
reviews Northeast Urban EM
Reviews South Central Suburban M
Reviews South Central Urban EM
Reviews Northeast Suburban EM
Reviews and hands on evaluation. South Central Suburban M
Reviews and personal observation Pacific Suburban E
Reviews and sometime reading the text Mountain Rural MH
Reviews from more than one source, and gut reaction to content. Midwest Rural M
Reviews from multiple sources. Age of characters. Midwest Suburban M
Reviews from multiple sources: SLJ, Booklist, Hornbook. AND I also read many, many books to determine for myself Midwest Suburban E
Reviews from School Library Journal, VOYA and other professional children’s book reviewers. If a book is on the edge, I will try to obtain a copy from another library or borrow it from someone and read it before putting it into the collection. Also, if a book is on the edge, I take into consideration our community’s views regarding controversial subjects and if the book is of significant literary (or other) merit. Mountain Suburban M
Reviews in library journals South Central Rural M
Reviews in professional journals- School Library Journal, Kirkus, Horn Book, etc. If they all or the majority say the level is high school, then I avoid purchasing that book for my middle school. If the journals have varying levels listed, then I read the book before purchasing. South Central Urban EM
Reviews in SLJ, Voya and online Northeast Rural H
Reviews like Horn Book, SLJ, if I still can’t tell I will attempt to preview the book or put it out on the PSLA listserve for networking support from within our state and local community of school librarians. Northeast Suburban EM
Reviews mostly. Pacific Small Town EM
Reviews mostly. Sometimes I get the book from the public library and read it myself to decide. If characters are older, sexually active, drinking, using drugs, I pass. I have grades k-8. Midwest Urban EM
Reviews my school population guidelines by vendors peer reviews in journals Northeast Urban MH
Reviews or by reading it myself and then using my judgement Midwest Suburban H
Reviews posted on Follett Titlewave. South Atlantic Small Town M
Reviews that tell me if book is for teens or adult book for teens. Books have to have been reviewed in a school level library journal and not be a negative one. South Atlantic Rural H
Reviews, blogs from other librarians, reading the actual book myself before ordering it. Northeast Urban EMH
Reviews, Book Summaries, Reviewers and Vendors Interest Level recommendations, when in doubt, I read the book. South Central Suburban E
Reviews, content. How an issue is presented. The amount of detail. Mountain Urban MH
Reviews, conversations with colleagues, and my own response to the book. Northeast Suburban M
Reviews, descriptions, recommendations, publisher suggestions. South Atlantic Rural E
reviews, lists, and vendors recommended age level South Central Urban E
Reviews, reading it, talk to other librarians. Northeast Suburban H
Reviews, reading, previous books by authors, poll of fellow high school librarians. Suburban H
reviews, recommendations from peers, age level set by the publisher, reading it myself Midwest Suburban E
reviews, sometimes I read it myself South Atlantic Small Town M
Reviews. Age appropriateness, as set by School Library Journal and other reviewers. Pacific Rural E
Reviews. Familiarity with the publisher and author. Northeast Suburban H
Reviews; use of strong language, detail of sexual, violent, crime content; illustrations that students may not handle in a mature manner Midwest Rural EMH
Scan the internet for title reviews Northeast Suburban M
School Library Journal, Booklist, and if I have read it personally. South Central Suburban M
Several different ways. Reading myself, using Renaissance Learnings interest leveling, reviews, etc. South Central Small Town E
Since I work in an elementary school, I would not purchase a book with sexual content, drug use, violence or most things controversial. I do not purchase books about the reproductive system or sex education, since that is covered in Family Life Education classes. South Atlantic Suburban EM
Since I work with elementary students only, I do not acquire material using offensive language, detailing sexual encounters, or glorifying the use of alcohol or leisure drugs. I also consult the school district’s psychologists to check on books including suicide. Canada Suburban EM
Situations are age appropriate, language is at a level they can understand, that there is no gratuitous sex, vulgar language or violence. The what happens in the book is realistic to the subject matter. Canada Urban EM
SLJ and other reviews and age recommendation of the publisher. Teacher recommendations, online blogs about using certain books in specific lessons, personally reading the book. Pacific Urban EM
Some aspect of the story and/or situation has to be relate able to the ages being served in the school. Northeast Small Town M
strictly a judgement call, based on who our students (K-5) are, where they are maturity-wise and how they process information. I also do buy books that I will allow older students to check out but not younger students. Pacific Suburban E
Students will request many titles. I will ask them if they think that it is appropriate for the middle school library. They are usually honest. Reliable book review journals and websites help in the decision. Midwest Small Town M
Subject matter South Atlantic Rural M
Subject matter appropriate for K-4 grade. Also reading reviews Northeast Small Town E
Subject matter, book reviews, lexile rating Northeast Small Town M
Subject matter, language, trusted book reviews Northeast Small Town EM
Subject matter, reading level. Northeast Suburban H
Subject matter, reviews from a variety of librarian magazines or journals. Northeast Suburban M
Subject matter, vocabulary, characters in novels, explanatory nature, etc. Northeast Suburban H
Suggestions made by reviewers and personal opinion based on summaries and reviews. South Central Urban M
The age and behavior of the books main characters and the reading level. If the book is about adults I usually don’t purchase it regardless of the reading level. South Central Rural H
The age of the characters is often a consideration: adult characters dealing with adult situations may not be appropriate. Northeast Small Town H
The age of the main characters. Northeast Suburban M
The best way to determine is to read it myself; however, it is not possible for me to read every book–so, I look at a lot of reviews. Mountain Suburban H
The first factor is the rating with any review I may read. After that, it’s just a matter of feeling out the tricky space where pre-teens exist, and balancing what they want with what they can handle. Northeast Suburban E
The level designated on the jobber site. Read selections of the book. Reviews are not as reliable as they had previously been. South Central Small Town H
The reading level and the content. Language, sexual situations, drug or alcohol usage Pacific Suburban E
The reading level, the grade level and potentially sensitive areas put out by the sellers. Midwest Small Town M
The recommendations from book reviews. Pacific Small Town H
This is such a dilemma for me as my age group spans from immature 6th grader to mature 8th grader. I read the reviews provided by Follett’s Titlewave, and for the most part, try to stick with known authors, and award winners. I farm out some titles to teachers who are willing to read and give feedback. Sometimes I check out a website called Common Sense Media for their comments. With such a small budget, we are forced to rely on books earned through the annual Scholastic Book Fair. I have to count on their reputation to make good choices for us. After all this, I purchase, and say a little prayer! Midwest Rural M
This is very difficult for a high school as ages span teens into early adulthood (18). I try to have a broad selection that span in appeal, topics, and difficulty to address the needs/wants of all my patrons. Midwest Suburban H
To determine if a book is age appropriate I will look at the suggested interest level, reading level, read the synopsis of the book, and look for reviews. I also check to see if any of the other schools in my district own this book and at what level – elementary, middle, or high school. Northeast Suburban E
Topic and depth of descriptive narrative South Central Small Town H
Topic, age of main characters, choices made by characters, how explicit sex/violence is, amount of profanity and to what degree Northeast Suburban M
Topics brought up in the book/story … are they relevant to the age range at my school? Mountain Urban M
try and read reviews, especially what non-professionals say about a book, such as those on amazon, and goodreads. South Central Urban H
Try to check to recommended age/interest level on at least a couple of websites. Midwest Rural EM
Typically from book reviews and/or ask someone who has read it Midwest Suburban H
Use multiple book reviews, actually read books that might be border-line “too-old” such as books marketed to adults. I work at a middle school Pacific Urban M
Use of book reviews and reading the book Northeast Small Town MH
Use reviews, personal recommendations or concerns from colleagues, read it myself. Northeast Suburban E
Use SLJ or similar texts look at reading levels and recommended age level etc. Midwest Suburban E
Use the professional reviewers recommendations South Atlantic Urban EM
Using book reviews in SLJ and in Sneak Peek in Alexandria South Atlantic Suburban EM
Using respected reviews from School Library Journal and Horn Book. Northeast Suburban E
Usually by use of strong vulgar language and sexual content Northeast Small Town EM
Usually, reviews or by reading the book myself. Northeast Small Town EM
Utilize multiple resources/reviews. South Atlantic Suburban M
Various reviews, summaries, and subject matter. Canada Suburban EMH
very specific to the students at my school content, descriptions, illustrations, language often will read the book and not rely on reviews and blurbs South Central Suburban EM
We begin with peer reviews, then go to authors’ notes & comments and young adults’ reviews. When we’re not sure we try to read the book ahead of purchase but may purchase then read the book and make a final determination based on our own knowledge of our student population & community. Pacific Urban H
We look at the reviews and at the content. We are a middle school that serves grades 7-9. Are students read beyond their years often with the encouragement of their parents. I would say that the content that stops us the most if it the sexuality is over the top for this age group. We recently decided against a few graphic novels because of the inference to rape and the full frontal nudity which is even more impactful in a graphic novel. We take controversial issues under consideration when it is overtly biased and/or there is not a representation of the other side. Pacific Urban MH
Weighing one or a variety of the following: professional reviews, my own reading of the material, comparison with our current collection, popularity among our patron population, asking the opinion of patrons who have read the material Midwest Suburban EM
Well, since I have only ‘non-selected’ two books in my eight years here, I obviously interpret age appropriateness quite broadly. Among our 11- to 14-year-old students, we have enormously wide reading and interest level ranges, so I feel that pretty much gives me carte blanche to select as broadly as fits our students’ diverse needs. I feel a strong responsibility to represent as many interests, levels, groups, cultures, minorities, genders, sexualities, etc. as possible and try to do so while roughly following the bell curve of popular interest books. Funny story: we have a strong collection of books about sex including “How Sex Works”, “What’s the Big Secret”, “Sex, Puberty, and All That Stuff” and many more, and I keep them on a shelf that allows a reasonable amount of privacy. Plus, the book spines and shelf have matching blue dots to make them easy for the students to find and for my library assistant and me to re-shelve Every. Single. Day. :) The sex books constantly get stashed and hidden in various other nooks–hey–maybe I should GPS tag them! Anyway, here’s the funny part: every school year, during the first few months, the sixth graders gradually discover these books. For the last few years, I’ve had an amazing number of sixth graders, mostly boys, running over to me, very upset, complaining about the sex book section! “Did you know there are books about s-e-x over there, Mrs. B?” “Why are they there?” “I think you should get rid of those!” Okay, now for the mistakes. I have a high school and college background and have a tendency to over-estimate my students’ reading and interest levels. Any time I really blow it, I just send those books up to the local high school where the students will get 4 more years to consider them. Pacific Rural M
What I feel is appropriate for the age Midwest Suburban EM
Writing level, content, interest, reviews, requests Northeast Suburban E

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