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TCH 208 - Reading and Language Development

Analyzing Book Quality - NoveList Plus

NoveList Plus is a wonderful tool to use to analyze book quality and write a rationale for why a book is appropriate and aligned with your context.

To get started, use the link below to open NoveList Plus. You may be prompted to log-in with your ULID and password. 

Once you have NoveList Plus open, enter the title of the book you want to learn more about in the search bar and hit enter. 

Example Search

From your results list, click on the title or cover of the book you are investigating. This will take you to a page with detailed information about your book to inform your thinking on the text. There are key elements you will want to explore when evaluating your book on NoveList Plus. Select the accordion for each item below to learn more!

Story elements in NoveList Plus try to tell you a lot of information about a book in an abbreviated format. Not all books are assigned every story element. These include:

  • Storyline - Storyline is a quick way to determine a book’s focus and structure. (ex. Action-packed, Character-driven, Own voices)
  • Pace - Pace is the rate at which a story unfolds for the reader. We identify books at either end of the spectrum. We also tag those that start slowly, then accelerate as the story progresses. (ex. Fast-paced, intensifying, Leisurely paced)
  • Tone -Tone is the feeling that a book evokes in the reader. In many cases, this category best answers the question, “What are you in the mood for?” (ex. Creepy, Feel-good, Hopeful)
  • Writing Style -Writing style terms tell us how a book is written, from the complexity of the language to the level of detail in the background. (ex. Descriptive, Engaging, Witty)
  • Character - Character terms are especially for those readers who love books because of the characters. Only applied to fiction books. (ex. Courageous, Culturally diverse, Relatable)
  • Illustration - For books that feature a lot of illustration, these terms identify elements like color, drawing style, or the mood evoked in the reader by the illustrations. (ex. Cartoony, Realistic, Detailed)
  • Genre - Genre terms associated with the book. (ex. Romance, Science fiction, Horror)
  • Theme - These terms describe popular and recurring plot elements found in the book. (ex. Chosen one, Framed!, Road tripping)

As an example, here are the story elements of On the Trapline:

Story Elements Example

Under the story elements in NoveList Plus, books also have a Min/Max grade level. This grade range identifies the grades of students which are likely to be engaged by the content in the book. 

There also might be a Lexile measure or Accelerated Reader designation. These identify the text complexity, meaning how complicated it is to read the book. To learn more about how to interpret the text complexity, revisit the Independent Reading Text page

For example, see the interest level and text complexity for On the Trapline:

Interest Level and Text Complexity Example

NoveList Plus also aggregates book reviews from major publishers such as Booklist, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Hornbook, and more. This can be tremendously useful to learn more about the content of the book, but also to see how the book was received by professionals. Beginnings of reviews will have /* Starred Review */ if it is a highly positive review from that publication, where the reviewer thought the book likely to be one of the best of the year. Most reviews will summarize the book and also include some evaluation which you may use to support your rationale for using the book.

For example, see the reviews included for On the Trapline:

Book Reviews Example

NoveList Plus will also indicate whether a book has won any awards by a blue ribbon above the description. If there is not a ribbon there, then the title you are investigating has not won an award identified by NoveList Plus. 

Award Example

If interested, you may see a list of the award(s) a book has one by changing over from the Reviews tab to the Lists & Articles tab. 

For example, On the Trapline shows:

Award List Example

In addition to story elements, books are also tagged with subjects which communicate the key details about the story. To see these, you need to scroll nearly to the bottom of the page for a book in NoveList Plus. These can be excellent to inform you on the main ideas of a book, but they can also be used as search terms in the "Search for More" book to find related titles. 

In the example below, you can see the subjects listed for On the Trapline, but you could also also select any of the tags and click the search button to see more books with those tags. 

Subjects Example

NoveList Plus also highlights read-alikes that are for a similar audience and tackle similar themes or subjects. This can be helpful to look at if you decide the book you are evaluating is not quite right, or it can be used as an extension for the book you have already identified as being strong.

Read-alikes Example

General Support - NoveList Plus

If you have additional questions about using NoveList Plus, you may find the below help videos informative.

NoveList Plus is a database of literature that provides synopses and reviews of books, teaching ideas, and a Lexile Ranking (independent readability).

Watch the NoveList Plus Overview video to learn about how to find NoveList on the Milner website and an overview of the main features on NoveList. 

You can also open the NoveList Plus database directly using the link below. 

Watch the Basic Search for a Title Video to learn about how to search for a book by title on NoveList Plus.

Watch the Determining Readability of a Text/Lexile Levels Video to learn about where to find a book's lexile number on NoveList Plus and how to convert that to an approximate grade level. 

Watch the Advanced Searching Video in NoveList to get an overview of search limits (date, audience, grade, awards, etc.), how to narrow results, and find related lists and articles.