book love · mom tips and resources

How to Find Great Books for Little Kids (On a Budget in a Rural Area)

Reading to my littles is something I love to do!

Okay, that’s providing we’re talking about good books! And by good books I mean something that is interesting to both the parent and the child.

Reading great children’s books with little ones can be a wonderful experience. And as most parents will know, reading books that are a drag can be a … well, a serious drag.

So today, in case you also love sharing wonderful books with your chilluns, I’m sharing my favorite resources for finding great books and maybe you’ll share some of yours with me; I’m always on the lookout for new ideas!


I stumbled across some of my favorite resources quite by accident but – no surprise here – it was when I was perusing books at a second-hand store. πŸ™‚ It always pays to take a look, right?

These two books, How to Raise a Reader and For the Love of Reading, both of which include lists of great children’s books with short descriptions of each, have been so valuable. I find their book descriptions very helpful in determining which books might be of interest to my family. Both books list the books according to the age of the intended reader so it’s easy to flip through to the section that best fits your child.


How to Raise a Reader by Elaine K. McEwan (find it on or is written by a parent/teacher/librarian/principal and includes ideas to help a reluctant reader and promote a lasting love of reading. My favorite part is the extensive list of read-aloud books for children from birth to age 12. The books are listed by both age and category (which includes classics, poetry, novels, Christian books, etc.), making it easy to browse through.

For the Love of Reading: Books to Build Lifelong Readers by David Bouchard (find it on or is written by four experts who are parents, teachers and librarians and includes 500 annotated listings of books for all ages from birth through high school. Also included are lists of seasonal books, over 100 French books and more.

Here’s several more books I haven’t personally read but would love to check out:

Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families by Sarah Clarkson. I’m already a fan of Sally Clarkson’s books and blog so I’m confident I’d enjoy this book by her daughter. Knowing that high-quality reading material was a priority in the Clarkson home, I’d love to have this resource of 1000+ stories recommended for young people (ranging from picture books and timeless classics to modern favorites, adventure novels and read-aloud favorites). (find it on or


Raising a Rock Star Reader: 75 Quick Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Lifelong Love for Reading by Allison McDonald and Amy Mascott (find it on or

You  may also be interested in Honey for a Child’s Heart or The Read-Aloud Handbook.

Don’t miss this step! Definitely get yourself one (or all!) of these ‘books about books’; they are such a valuable resource.

An online resource can be found by entering your email address to get access to great book lists at Read Aloud Revival. By signing up you’ll get access to interesting and informative podcasts all about reading as well.


I keep running Pinterest lists of books that sound interesting or have been enjoyed by our family in the past. The Child’s Book List is the main place I keep new ideas as well as favorites we’ve already read.

Of course you don’t have to have a board on Pinterest; you can use whatever list-keeping tools appeal to you. I also like the Evernote app and a good old-fashioned notebook.


Every so often I’ll peruse my ‘books about books’ and my Pinterest boards and choose a few to request online from the library. My local library is super small so I find this easier than browsing through the library itself for great reading material. Because our local online library includes books from all across the province, the selection is much wider than is available in just one small town.

You could say it’s the ultimate lazy man’s way of selecting books; someone else gathers them together for me and delivers them to my local library and I get an email when they’re ready to pick up. Easy as that! However, requesting books does benefit the small town library so it’s a win-win situation!

If I have questions about a particular book, I read reviews – some 1, 2 and 5 star reviews for sure – and can usually get a good idea from that if an individual book (such as an Easter or Christmas story or when narrowing down the choices in a particular subject like kindergarten) will be a good choice for our family or not.

Maybe taking the time to find the titles and search for and request them online sounds too time-consuming. The good news is it doesn’t really take that long; an hour or so once a month goes a long way in selecting quality books. Some of our overwhelming favorites have been books we’ve found through this method so I think it’s definitely worth the relatively small amount of time it takes.

Of course on occasion the children and I will still make a special trip to our local library and they’ll pick out their own books. I’m usually reading Pinkalicious, Berenstain Bears and similar books for the next while in those cases! πŸ™‚


Once we’ve borrowed books from the library, we have a good idea which ones are keepers and which are so-so. (I’m not above trying out new-to-us bargain books that look interesting though; we’ve found lots of fun reads that way too!)

After borrowing from the library, I’m familiar with many quality books we’ve already come to love and I can then keep my eyes open at garage sales, local second-hand stores and book sales for those keepers and grab them when I find them. Yes, it takes a bit of patience to sort through the book shelves and boxes but I love the hunt. πŸ™‚

It’s surprising how often I find a really great book among those crowded shelves, usually for a dollar or less. I’ve also heard that the library’s discontinued bookshelf is another excellent place to check for good books.

(If you’re in the area, you can visit the Saskatoon Symphony Book Sale beginning this April 21st and running through the 30th.)


Just for fun, I thought I’d throw in five of our own favorites despite the fact that trying to choose just five fabulous children’s books is super difficult! These books target the 2-5 year age range approximately. 

Listed in no particular order, these books have been well worth reading and re-reading many times:


The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas. We love the humor in this book; the wolves’ increasingly sturdy houses include brick and concrete homes and a house complete with thirty-seven padlocks and a video entrance phone. Finally they build a house of flowers and make friends with the pig.

Slinky Malinki by Lynley Dodd. This is a relatively short rhyming read about a cat who stole all manner of things, finally ending up in a tangled heap of stolen goods. The rhythm of this story makes it an especially fantastic poem.

Somebody and the Three Blairs by Marilyn Tolhurst. The humor in this story is not lost on my children; they love Baby Blair’s comical (dry-humored) exclamations when they come home to find Somebody (a bear) has ransacked their house.

Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell. Oops. Did I really just choose three books that are plays on old classics?! Apparently there’s something magical about those familiar stories in a new format although the classics themselves are well worth reading too, of course. If you, like me, don’t have much grasp of French, you’ll appreciate the pronunciations listed in the beginning of the book. Don’t expect to read this book well the first time but with just a little practice, you’ll have so much fun reading through the rhythmic rhyming story of Petite Rouge’s spunky adventures with Ol’ Claude de ‘gator as she and her cat TeJean set out to bring Grand-mΓ¨re some gumbo.

A Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton. Ms. Boynton’s books are well-loved favorites of course but this is one of our personal favorites, along with Snuggle Puppy: A Little Love Song. It’s so much fun to read; the catchy words make you want to dance right along with it and we find ourselves randomly repeating phrases from this one! πŸ™‚

I hope you’re inspired to find a new favorite to read with your little ones today!

How do you find great books? Please do share your tips and your family’s favorite books in the comments!



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