Skip to Main Content

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


  • 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).


  • 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?




  • 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?


  • 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?

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

References and 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

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


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



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”