Reading Tollbooth

The right book for the right child at the right time

— Anne Carol Moore

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Reading Tollbooth?

Reading Tollbooth is a web-based discovery engine. We combine the power of social discovery (recommendations from other people) with content-specific reviews to create a personalized reading experience that matches your reading interests at that moment.

It is Pandora® for books, only better.

Reading Tollbooth is a project that came out of the Publishing Hackathon in New York City. We hope to have an interactive demo up soon, but for now you can view screenshots of our work at the Hackathon:

View that experts will see when annotating books.

The child view is simple: only one slider needed!

A child bookshelf.

A teen bookshelf showing a book selected.

What kind of books can I discover through the Reading Tollbooth?

Our tool facilitates access to reading material for children and young adults. Our “library” includes print, audio, and digital (e-books) reading materials.

Reading Tollbooth lets parents “shelve” books for reading with their young children, and recommend reads to their older children. Children and Teens also have the opportunity to select books and create a personal library.

Do parents really have any influence over what their kids read?

Yes! Parents are the primary gateway to book discovery for children and teens. Not just because you have “say so,” but because their kids look to them as a trusted source.

Don’t believe us? then maybe this study by Scholastic might help. Here is what their most recent Kids & Family Reading Report says:

  • Young readers (6 to 8) get ideas from parents 89% of the time
  • Pre-teens (9-11) rely on their parents 78% of the time
  • Teenagers (ages 12-17) look to their parents at least 61% of the time.
Can I rate the book with 5 stars?

Stars and thumbs have some usefulness in deciding on whether to read a book, but have limited usefulness for book discovery. Aggregating large numbers of reviews and ratings on sites like helps, but is still not enough.

Mixed reviews of a title makes it difficult to determine if the book is right for “me.” Reviews are not standardized; there is too much variety in content used to support the review and rating.

Those “If you like X, you may like Y” systems cannot anticipate when or why you change your mind. They assume that what you were interested in yesterday is what you are still interested in today. Reading Tollbooth is dynamic - we change when you need us to.

Do I have to buy books to read them?

Definitely not! We hope you use the library - a lot! Our #1 goal is to help you find the right children’s or YA book at the right time. We plan to make it possible for you to go directly to your library catalog and reserve reading material.

If you prefer to buy your books, you can do that, too. We link to multiple merchants so the choice is yours. (e.g.,,,,, to name a few).

What is a Socially Responsible Company?

A company that walks the talk! Knowing how to read is the gateway to all other learning, and to learn to read, you need access to reading material.

In 2010, Reading is Fundamental, America’s oldest literacy nonprofit, published the most extensive analysis of the impact of access to books on reading. In a nutshell, it demonstrated that:

“access to print materials has a direct, significant impact on a child’s educational outcome." "children's book lending and ownership programs were shown to have positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes.” [emphasis ours]

Not only does the Reading Tollbooth help you gain greater access to books that interest your child “in the moment,” we want to make sure that kids who don’t have access to reading materials have a chance to succeed, too.

That is why we make it possible for you to support RIF’s literacy programs through donations or by becoming an active literacy partner in your community.

Who are the creators of Reading Tollbooth?


Terry Doherty — Literacy expert, Founder and Executive Director of non-profit The Reading Tub, Director, New Media & Alumni Education for Mom's Choice Awards.

Sheila Ruth — Founder and President of Imaginator Press, website & web applications developer, book blogger at Wands & Worlds.


Jen Robinson — Literacy expert, book blogger, and founder of the Growing Bookworms newsletter.

Sarah Stevenson — YA author of The Latte Rebellion, graphic designer, and book blogger at Finding Wonderland

How I can I learn more?

You can sign up for our email list for occasional news and updates. We promise we won't spam you, overwhelm you with messages, or sell your information.