Librarians, teachers, booksellers, and parents will now have more regularly updated, improved access to suggestions for at-home reading, thanks to an initiative jumpstarted by the Children’s Book Council. The Building a Home Library list, which had been curated biennially by librarians on the CBC-ALA committee, will now be available every year and presented in a more user-friendly format. The enhanced design can better accommodate the number of featured titles, allowing it to expand from 25 books per age group to 40, and promoting a more well-rounded roster.

The decision to restart the list and finetune the assembly process was prompted by the CBC’s discovery last year that there had been 8,000 downloads of the 2021 list (the last time it had been published since the pandemic). “It was just too good a resource to let go,” explained executive director Carl Lennertz. But because this project required the committee librarians to spend numerous hours making phone calls and sending emails, he realized that the production end needed a complete overhaul.

Lennertz then tapped publishing industry service provider Ingram Content Group to take over. At the helm are five content development librarians—Debbie Davenport, Rachel Montgomery, Lisa Nabel, Wendy Rancier. and Beth Reinker—who created an extensive list of titles divided by age group: 0–3, 4–7, 8–11 and 12–14. The goal of featuring more current and diverse books (and fewer classics) was to offer a more accurate depiction of today’s young readers.

To streamline the curation process and include more titles than the previous format allowed, the list is available online in a downloadable Excel spreadsheet that replaces the original PDF files. Users can now sort and search for titles with ease on their desktops. And because of the expanded design, the opportunity to extend the list up to 40 books allows for a greater number of authors and publishing houses. Lennertz is particularly excited by both the publisher diversity (60 large and small houses) and almost two dozen graphic novels in the 8–11 and 12–14 age groups. “There is more room to include so many deserving authors and illustrators: Joy Harjo, Raúl the Third, Juana Martinez-Neal, Kelly Starling Lyons, and Grace Lin… to name a few,” he added.

Enhancing this year’s list is the debut of a new Building a Home Library logo and Favorites PDF by age group. The full package will be promoted via e-blast to the CBC’s list of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and parents throughout the summer and fall. A social media campaign with publishers will also kick off this summer.

Looking ahead, the list will be updated and announced annually to continue serving as a resource for budding readers. “We hope that the committee members—and all the publishers with books on the list—will promote the books at ALA, as well as note these books on their sites as CBC Building a Home Library selections,” Lennertz said.

Visit the CBC website for the complete list.