Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Recommended Literature List

Collection of outstanding literature for children and adolescents in grades prekindergarten through grade twelve in all disciplines.


Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Recommended Literature List) is a searchable database of books for children and teens which helps students, teachers, and families find books that entertain, inform, and explore new ideas and experiences.

Each book has a description called an "annotation" that explains what the book is about. The annotation can help someone decide if the title is interesting and appropriate to read.

Literature used in a school is determined by the district. Each district should have a selection policy that explains the procedures it uses for selecting literature that reflects the school's education mission, program, and the ages and interests of its students. The selection policy should describe the process for reconsidering the use of a title. The Recommended Literature List is intended as a tool to assist districts as they select literature, but the list only recommends titles. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the district to select literature according to the selection policies that are in place.

Many of the literature selections available within the Recommended Literature List contain material that can be considered provocative or controversial. By its very nature, literature can stimulate debate and disagreement about important issues. The Recommended Literature List is designed to give local educational agencies a range of materials to choose from to meet the needs of local teachers and students. In California, specific decisions about classroom instruction are made at the local level by teachers and local administrators, rather than in Sacramento. It should be understood that inclusion of a variety of diverse materials on the Recommended Literature List does not preclude local teachers and administrators from selecting those specific materials that best suit the needs and interests of their local students.

In 2014, Assembly Bill (AB) 484 eliminated the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program of which the California Reading List (CRL) was a resource. The CRL identified leveled reading materials appropriate to a student’s reading level using Lexile numbers provided on a student’s STAR results report. Although it does not include Lexile numbers, the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is still available to aid students, teachers, parents, and other education stakeholders in discovering quality literature through a variety of criteria including, but not limited to, grade level, topic, genre, and culture.

Search the List

Recommended Literature List Search
Search the online database for books by grade level spans or other criteria. Some books may be out of print and not readily available through most sellers, but they may be available in libraries and through used bookstores.

Recommended Literature List Search Instructional Webinar External link opens in new window or tab.
This webinar explains the purpose of the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve, and demonstrates search techniques in order to access quality literature quickly.

Recommended Literature List Title Suggestion Survey External link opens in new window or tab.
This survey may be filled out to suggest to the Recommended Literature List Committee titles to be included in future updates of the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve.

Recommended Literature List Title Reconsideration Survey External link opens in new window or tab.
This survey may be filled out to request that the Recommended Literature List Committee reconsider a title included within the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve.

List Resources

Recommended Literature List Resources
Information about the list including search categories, acknowledgements, awards, district selection policies, literary genres, classifications, connections to standards, cultural designations, frequently asked questions, and previously published literature lists.

Questions: Literature List Staff | | 916-323-6269 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Recently Posted in Curriculum and Instruction Resources

  • Support for Educators During COVID-19 May 7, 2020 (added 26-May-2020)
    Recorded webinar on the Virtual Support Circle for Educators During COVID-19 from the California Department of Education on May 7, 2020.
  • Virtual Educator Support Circle Webinar (added 21-May-2020)
    Hosted by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, this Virtual Support Circle for Educators features an online panel of educators and experts to share their experiences, tips for educator wellness, and resources.
  • Designing a High-Quality Online Course (added 19-May-2020)
    The information on this page provides local educational agencies with research-based guidance that can support developing and delivering high-quality distance learning.
  • Lessons from the Field: Remote Learning Guidance (added 19-May-2020)
    This page contains local educational agency (LEA) strategies, resources, and information to improve the implementation of distance learning and support high-quality instruction for all students. They can be adapted to meet local needs.
  • Distance Learning Considerations (added 19-May-2020)
    This page provides considerations for designing and implementing distance learning opportunities for all students. It includes specific state and local educational agency (LEA) approaches that can guide decision-making.