April 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

RA for “Early Able, Eager Readers” | Professional Shelf

excellent booksEvery school or public library has its own frequent flier club, borrowers who swoop in and devour books with enthusiasm and ease. Providing readers’ advisory services to the youngest of these voracious readers can be a challenge, especially when reading ability far exceeds age or grade level. One resource to have within reach is Excellent Books for Early and Eager Readers (ALA, 2016). Geared to readers ages 4-10, this trim title offers a well-organized, annotated list of recommendations compiled by veteran teacher and children’s book expert, Kathleen T. Isaacs.

Drawing on her experience, as well as recent “conversations with numerous parents, booksellers, teachers, and librarians,” Isaacs begins by describing some of the traits “early able, eager readers” often share, for example, they choose to read for pleasure without prompting or have come to enjoy reading without the need for much formal instruction. However, as with adults, children’s tastes range far and wide, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to keeping these keen readers supplied with titles.

For these readers it’s important to remember that specific grade or interest levels don’t always apply; instead Isaacs uses the general interest designations: young, middle, older. Included are both new and classic titles. In a chapter on what to consider during the book selection process, the author discusses the importance of accessing the reader’s emotional maturity, maintaining sensitivity to subject matter, and particularly in the case of titles from the past, taking notice of possible racial or ethnic stereotypes.

The body of the book is comprised of 13 sections, starting with “Early Reader Transitional Books” and ending with “Complicated Plots.” In between, there’s something for every reader with stories of all kinds—primarily fiction—including fantasy, historical fiction, biographies, poetry, mythology, and more. Each entry is comprised of title, author, original date of publication, interest level, and a brief, but comprehensive annotation. Lexile measures are provided when available. Plus, all entries can be searched by subject, title, or author in two handy indexes. A final chapter wraps up with additional pointers and a helpful survey of sources for even more booklists and recommendations, many of which are available online.


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Alicia Eames About Alicia Eames

A former Brooklyn Public Library children's librarian and NYC public school teacher/librarian, Alicia Eames is a freelance editor and a frequent contributor to the SLJ’s Curriculum Connections “Professional Shelf” column.



  1. Interesting topic. Thank you for sharing. Is this (or anything pertaining to children whose reading level is much higher than their age) available as an electronic resource? If not, how often is this publication updated?