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Children’s and Young Adult Literature

A guide to locating information and research resources about literature for children and youth.

Evaluation Criteria

Evaluation and Selection Criteria

for Children’s and Young Adult Fiction

STORY & CHARACTER

  • Does the story have a narrative strong enough to keep readers engaged? (Mallett, 2010, pg. 26) Will the plot be appealing to the intended audience?
  • Will the story entertain, stimulate, surprise, intrigue, or reassure young readers? (Mallett, 2010, pg. 26)
  • What is the theme? Is it well-communicated and worth communicating?
  • Does the story present a real-life challenge for readers to engage with?
  • Can the story lead to a discussion between readers?
  • Will the characters connect with readers? Are the characters believable, relatable, and/or admirable?
  • Does the story result in character development and growth?  
  • Will the story help to expand the reader’s understanding and awareness?
  • Is the plot original and appealing?
  • Is the setting distinct and interesting?
  • Does the story (including text and/or images) reinforce stereotypes? Consider depictions of race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, and age.
  • With regard to power and ideology:
  • Whose story is told? From whose point of view? (From Short, K.G. in Johnson, et al., 2017, pg. 11).
  • Which characters have power and agency? How is this treated or examined by the author? (From Short, K.G. in Johnson, et al., 2017, pg. 11).
  • Is a specific ideology presented, either explicitly or implicitly? What impact could this have on readers? (From Bradford, C. in Johnson, et al., 2017, pg. 26).

LANGUAGE

  • Is language used to add depth, richness, and imagery to the story?

  • Does it express feeling in a way that would connect emotionally with the intended readers?

  • Does the language communicate well the story’s mood? Is language used to effectively build excitement and tension?

  • Is humour incorporated to add to the level of engagement? Is humour incorporated without reinforcing stereotypes, “othering,” or demeaning?

  • Is the reading level and complexity of language suited to the intended reader? Will it challenge young readers without being inaccessible to them?

 

ILLUSTRATION & TEXT

 

  • Does the cover convey well what the book is about? Will it appeal to the intended audience and encourage readers to pick it up?

  • Is the text clear, appropriately sized, and readable?

  • Are illustrations used to enhance and add life to the story?

  • Do the illustrations align well with the text?

CONNECTIONS TO CURRICULUM

  • Can the story be used to support at least one of the core competencies from the BC curriculum (Communication, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Positive Personal & Cultural Identity, Personal Awareness & Responsibility, Social Responsibility)?

  • Does it reinforce at least one Big Idea from the BC curriculum?

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References and Further Reading

REFERENCES & FURTHER READING

For more information regarding the evaluation of fiction for young readers, please see the following resources:

 

 

American Indian Library Association. (1991). "I" is not for Indian: The portrayal of Native Americans in

books for young people. Retrieved from http://www.nativeculturelinks.com/ailabib.htm


Canadian Children’s Book Centre. (2018). How to choose a book. Retrieved from

http://bookcentre.ca/resources/how-to-choose-a-book

 

Reese, D. (2018). American Indians in children's literature. Retrieved from

https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/

 

 

Searching for Further Information

You can find more information sources on this topic at the UBC Library, by using search terms including:

 

 

“children’s literature” AND evaluat*

“children’s literature” AND “history & criticism”

“children’s literature” AND “study & teaching”

 

 

“juvenile fiction” AND evaluat*

“juvenile fiction” AND “history & criticism”

“juvenile fiction” AND “study & teaching”

 

 

children AND “books & reading”