The Residential Library

The sometimes demented, frequently irreverent, and occasionally stupid musings of Ron Hargrove

Welcome to Story Times

Need recommendations for children’s books? You’ve come to the right place.

By Maria Russo  [November 27, 2019]

Hello, readers! I’m Maria Russo, The New York Times’s children’s books editor. My job is to sort through thousands of new titles published each year — from picture books to chapter books to middle grade novels to young adult novels — and select the very best to be featured in The Times. My goal is to help you keep up with the best the publishing world is offering our kids, week in and week out.

But I’m also the mother of three children, ages 9 to 16. In my life at home, I’m not always looking for new books to give to my children — and, probably, you aren’t either. Throughout the years, I’ve had specific needs at specific moments, and they always feel pretty urgent. A fun picture book about manners for a rambunctious 5-year-old who was just — gasp — rude to Grandma. An illustrated chapter book for an 8-year-old who has gone through all the Dog Man books and declared — yikes — he will never again read anything that is not Dog Man. A book about American history that’s accessible to a fact-loving 10-year-old. Something fantastical to tempt a 12-year-old Harry Potter obsessive.

That’s where Story Times comes in. Under the Story Times banner I’ll recommend books that fit the bill for whatever you’re looking for, from your baby’s first weeks at home to your teenager’s last weeks at high school.

So far, I’ve put together some suggestions for great bedtime stories for babies and toddlersfantasy novels for teenagers and books for babies. And I’ve also recommended excellent shorter stories for brand-new readersgreat not-too-long books for elementary-school children; and bedtime books for preschoolers.

I’ll keep adding to these lists and writing new ones, and I’d love to hear from you, too. What can I help you with? How did the books I’ve recommended work for your kids? What books are your family reading and loving? Send me a note at, and I’ll do my very best to send more useful ideas your way.

I’m looking forward to meeting you all here, and to fun and fruitful Story Times. Thanks for reading — and for reading with your children. I truly believe it’s the best gift you can possibly give them.

Maria Russo is the children’s books editor of The New York Times Book Review and the co-author, with Pamela Paul, of “How to Raise a Reader.”

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