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Reading Levels

How Do We Choose Our Books?

If you’re new to Literati, you may be wondering: by what standard do we judge our books? How expertly do we review book options, and ultimately, how do we determine if a story can stand up to our Literati standards? 

We understand there’s a wealth of children’s books out there to choose from—and decision fatigue is real. Sometimes, you find treasures. But sometimes you arrive home with new books, only to discover that the stories aren’t as great as they first seemed. Sometimes, your child doesn’t like your book selection, and then reading gets neglected. 

But if you’re not new here, you know that Literati books are special. They’re profound stories with vibrant illustrations and rich characters that offer a unique, joyful reading experience for you and your child to truly cherish together. 

How do we do it? 

Magicians never reveal their tricks—but we’re not magicians or mind-readers. We’re people who are passionate about sparking a lasting love of stories. Here, the books perform the magic, so here’s how that magic arrives on your doorstep:

What We Do

We read a lot of books. More than that—we OBSESS over books. We look for a perfect blend of captivating ideas, guiding illustrations, impactful themes, and characters that become fast friends. When it comes to choosing the perfect Literati books for our Members, our literary intuition lights the way. 

We ask the experts. We are fortunate to know lots of other friends in the biz. Educators, publishers, librarians, teachers, parents and even kids continually help us cultivate a long, beautiful list of thousands of book recommendations.

We hunt for gems. Uniqueness is everything. We’re constantly asking ourselves: what takes a book from good to undeniably amazing? Our team is constantly searching and searching (and searching) for stories that truly stand out. We look for books that are thoughtfully written, expertly illustrated, and hands-down the best of the best, whether they’re classics, debut stories, or somewhere in between.

What We Don’t Do

We don’t shop online. At Literati, there are many things we do to set ourselves apart from popular online book retailers, whose libraries are curated by algorithms instead of book lovers. We use a thorough, personal process to hand-select every story for your blossoming bookworms.

We don’t look for bestsellers. That’s not to say that we hate the classics (we don’t), but we know that you’re already familiar with Goodnight Moon and Madeline. We seek out more rare titles, supporting the authors and illustrators that are producing incredible gems that you won’t find on your E-Reader or next to the TV aisle.

Across the board, our books are:

Artful. We genuinely see books are a piece of art, and every story delivered to every member reflects that. Plus, we love supporting our favorite illustrators.

Unusual. We said it before and we’ll say it again: we choose books that stand out. We’re always looking for books that bring new activities and interesting dynamics that make reading a full experience.

Engaging. We read the books ourselves. If we’re not completely swept off our feet by the narrative and ignoring everything around us, then we don’t choose that book. It’s as simple as that.

A story for every step of the way.

We make sure to select literature that’s going to stimulate the specific development stages your child will go through. As such, the qualities that take a book from good to great are highly-dependent on age and development. We do our best to ensure that your child’s love of reading grows at the same pace they do.

Books for Babies & Toddlers: Ages 0-3

That’s right, even babies need books! In fact, babies especially need books, and it’s crucial to bring stories into their first years to spark important language development. Our littlest members receive elevated board books rich in primary concepts, vibrant shapes, and colorful characters. And if the ABCs start feeling too simple, take a half-step forward with higher-concept board books.

  • Hands-On. We know that this stage is all about development and exposure. We look for the best books that they can get their tiny hands on—all the flaps, flips and moving pieces to stimulate those precious little smiles (and brains, too!).
  • Value-based. It’s never too early to start teaching little people to be good people. Our Literati books focus on early exposure to important values like kindness and confidence.
  • Beautiful. Those big eyes are absorbing everything they see with so much passion and intensity, so we make sure to give them something truly exhilarating to look at. Literati books also double as contemporary pieces of art, with gorgeous and colorful designs that will impress you as much as your tiny reader.

Books for Preschoolers: Ages 3-5

It’s a transformative time for brain development: your little sprouts are off to preschool! They’re also asking non-stop questions as their curiosity—and their vocabularies—blossom. To fuel this fun stage, our book boxes transform preschool reading into a celebration of story. These books pair vivid illustrations with compelling characters to drive newfound imaginations.

  • Character, character, character. At this age, personalities are flourishing and strong senses of self are developing. We look for strong characters with stories that children love to follow. Preschoolers are just beginning to define character traits, and these stories will help them decide who they are—and who they want to be!
  • Experiential. Beginning with this age, we’re looking for stories that are uniquely interactive and fun. They have something that us book nerds call “the story symphony.” Truly quality elements come together like music, for a sensational experience that sweeps us directly into the books.
  • Short and sweet. The perfect children’s book for preschoolers is when an unforgettable character comes to life with an unforgettable story. It’s powerful, well-written, beautifully illustrated—and bite-sized. That’s the sweet spot!

Books for New Readers: Ages 5-7

Kindergarten and the early grade school years are when your kid is starting to make real friends—learning about themselves and others at a rapid rate. Every member receives Literati books that emphasize immersive illustrations and vibrant, multicultural stories. It’s the perfect age for nourishing deeper curiosity.

  • Character, character, character. Just like Preschoolers, these are key years for children to discover who they are. Our storylines may explore more educational and nonfictional topics, but strong characters reign supreme.
  • Smart. You’ll enjoy these stories just as much as your little one. Cheeky, punny and contemporary interactions allow them to explore human connections while giving everyone the giggles. We know, there’s nothing better.
  • Factual. As our little ones are becoming not-so-little, we can introduce nonfiction tales that bring to life all the real things that make our world so amazing. But it never should feel like school, so we always look for books that balance these “lessons” with incredible illustrations and catchy, contemporary language.

Books for Independent Readers: Ages 7-9

And just like that, they are starting to read on their own! Our book boxes bridge the transition from reading to your child to reading with your child. Our starter chapter books span the wide variety of reading levels in this age, and showcase detailed characters and satisfying plots, with just enough visual clues.

  • Immersive. Stories for this age are not so much about strong characters as a strong, propulsive narrative, when your reader is swept off their little feet and propelled head-first into the story.
  • Informative. Animal facts, space stories and science galore! This is the perfect time for kids to start developing genuine, long-lasting interest in certain subjects. These members receive books that encourage a variety of new topics, so you can see what kindles a particular flame in your reader.
  • Just long enough. It’s important at this age that reading for fun remains, well, fun. Introductory chapter books are an exciting next step that make your kid feel older and mature—with accompanying illustrations and exciting storylines that are perfectly digestible and enjoyable.

Books for Advanced Readers: Ages 9-12

Ah, those last, precious years before we hit the teenage stage. These readers receive a diverse selection of new and classic novels alongside nonfiction and activity books. These books challenge, inspire, and help fledgling readers soar.

  • Exhilarating. Every story should reach out and grab the reader, bringing them on a whirlwind of emotions and excitement. Whether it’s a creepy mystery, action-packed drama, or maybe a heartfelt story, we choose books that truly captivate all the senses.
  • Challenging. When it comes to facts, these readers can handle a little more umph. We focus on nonfiction and educational books that can really expand the minds and intellect of our preteen readers without boring them.
  • A little lengthy. 10-page chapters? Lots of words on one page? Bring it on. At this age, many readers already understand the joy of disappearing into a good book, so we find stories that make this feeling last.

Books for Young Adults: Ages 13+

Your teenager might start to distance themselves—but if their nose is in a book, they’re still in good hands. Members in this age range get hooked on compelling YA novels that widen their worldview, no matter the genre. From magical new worlds to stories of real life teens, there’s always a shocking twist.

  • Encouraging. We all remember the insecurities that come with teenagedom. Traditional coming-of-age narratives stick for a reason: young characters who face formidable adversity resonate with readers and give them the confidence to face challenges of their own.
  • Bingeable. Fast-paced plots, achingly high stakes, and unforgettably unique characters: these are the ingredients that make YA so captivating. We only send stories that we can’t put down (and, more often than not, finish in a weekend).
  • Epic. Mind-bending magic, multiple points of view, and an entire world to save? These readers can handle it. You may find yourselves comparing page counts with these action-packed reads—or perhaps you’ll even consider swapping for fun. (We certainly do!)

From all of us at Literati — happy reading! Where will your books take you this year?

Authored by Charlie DeTar
October 19, 2022
Included in this Article

The Seeker Level Box

0-6 Months 7-12 Months 2 Years

The Ranger Level Box

5 Years 6 Years 7 Years

The Aviator Level Box

9 Years 10 Years 11 Years


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