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Best books for children: a word cloud merges best-of lists

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Emelie Fredrikson / tagxedo.com

(Read caption) The best books for children list package ever? See the link below for a larger, easier to read (easier to appreciate its beauty) word cloud.

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If you Google "books for children," you're going to be overwhelmed by links. Dozens of retailers, libraries, blogs, and media institutions publish their children's book recommendations annually, monthly, sometimes weekly or daily. You'll choose a site that seems reputable and hope for the best, but how can you be sure? What's more, the recommendations are typically formatted into lengthy vertical lists that can wear down your patience and your computer mouse's scroll wheel. 

While we at Modern Parenthood understand the value in filtering out the best children's books from the bad, we wanted to do away with the scrolling and introduce an aesthetic sensibility to boot. So we made a children's book word cloud (click here for a larger, more readable cloud).

For the uninitiated, word clouds are a way to visualize word choice. Text is entered into a word cloud generator and out comes the words which appeared most often in the text. The generator uses size to represent frequency, so words that are small in the cloud were used less in the text than and words that appear larger. 

These generators even let you input whole phrases, or in our case, titles of books. We combined titles from nine must-read children's book lists, including lists from Barnes and Noble, the Boston Public Library, ChildrensBooksGuide.com, etc., and put them into a word cloud generator. What came out, and what you see in small format at the top of the page (again, click here for large format) is a word cloud that displays the children's books most frequently mentioned by must-read children's book lists. If a book was mentioned on multiple lists, it will appear larger in the world cloud.

Within the word cloud are timeless treasures like "A Wrinkle in Time," "Where the Wild Things Are," and "The Little Prince," along with forgotten gems like "Maniac Magee," and "The Rainbow Fish."

We've also written about some of the books in the word cloud. Monitor books reporter Molly Driscoll interviewed the author of the "Magic Tree House" series last summer. Mary Norton's "The Borrowers" was made into an animated movie by the famous Japanese animators at Studio Ghibli. The movie, "The Secret World of Arrietty", was reviewed in the Monitor last winter. 

Do you like looking at book lists in a word cloud or do you prefer a more traditional format? Let us know on Twitter: @Modparenthood


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