There are people who don't take children's books seriously, as if they are some adorable stopgap until one can read "real" literature. This is, to say the least, misguided. Without children's books, there would be no adult readers or books -- and those children's books are often more elemental and less pretentious than the adult equivalent.
A YA (young adult) sidebar: many are saying that this is a "golden age" of YA fiction. I prefer to say that it is an age of a lot of YA fiction. Why? Well, for the first time in decades, there's serious money to be made. Books are pouring into the marketplace at a record rate, which translates into some absolutely fantastic reading -- and a lot of filler. Tread carefully.
Now, from the mild screed to the links festival.
My friend fairrosa has one of the best children's book sites I've seen. So does Michael Thorn, in the UK. In Mississippi, there's the de Grummond Collection; in Minneapolis, the Kerlan Collection; in Australia, Dromkeen; in Toronto, Boys and Girls House. And remember, there's always ALSC.
Absolutely essential, in my opinion, are the Children's Book Council and the CCBC, the latter run by the estimable KT Horning. (There is another CBC -- the Children's Book Council of Australia; and another CCBC -- the Canadian Children's Book Centre.)
YA specialists and English teachers: some advice for you. Join ALAN; subscribe to the ALAN Review and VOYA. Don't forget to visit at least one or two (or three or four) YA sites. (And this incredible teen booklist site, too.)
Anyone concerned with the teaching of reading should join IRA. (I'd also suggest visiting Planet Esmé, and definitely check out Jon Scieszka's Guys Read.)
If you like interactivity, try the Children's Literature Wiki.
It was only a matter of time before children's book blogs began to appear. These often combine book reviews, literary comment, news, and gossip. Their authors range from professional book reviewers to librarians to booksellers to those who simply love the genre. It's a good thing; it's also a weirdly closed loop, because (unlike in the "adult" world) the audience isn't typically involved. Roger Sutton's blog is a good place to start when it comes to opinions; Jenny Brown's is a treasure box of recommendations Anita Silvey shares her breadth of knowledge with a book every single day..
To get an idea of the breadth of children's literature worldwide, contact IBBY, and its American wing, USBBY. (Here are an Australian and a New Zealand children's book site.) Academics, please head for ChLA, the Children's Literature Association.
If you want to write children's books, you need SCBWI, also known as the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. The Children's Writing Resource Center and Authorlink wouldn't hurt, either. (If you want to write children's books and you're a librarian, you have a leg up, or at least an illustrious set of predecessors.)
More and more people are homeschooling nowadays. For them, here are the Ultimate Resource Page, the Clonlara School, Booktalks -- Quick and Simple, Joni Richards Bodart's The Booktalker, Weekly Reader, Book Links, Good Conversations! (VHS tapes of authors at home, talking about their work), Children's Literature, and ALA's Great Sites for Kids. (For balance, check out this Pagan Parenting Page.)
Most of the storytellers I know belong to the National Storytelling Association.
Interested in listservs? Start with CHILDLIT, which is run out of Rutgers. (Other children's listservs include PUBYAC, ALSC-L, and YALSA-L and YALSA-BK. CHILDLIT and YALSA-BK discuss children's and YA books as literature. Adbooks covers YA literature in a more informal fashion. And finally, there is CCBC-Net, devoted to thoughtful monthly book discussions.)
Two of my favorite magazines have equally great virtual editions: The Horn Book and The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Oh, and Kirkus Reviews has a site now, too, but you have to pay.
Visit the library here, there, and elsewhere -- you can sleep there, too. (To get into the mood, read Booklist and School Library Journal.) REFORMA has a site for those interested in the Latino/Latina library experience. And yes, even the concept of a library has an online home: the Internet Public Library and the Children's Digital Library. (For more specific sites, see below.)
If you would rather buy books, read Publishers Weekly, then go to Powell's, which is an enormous physical and virtual independent bookstore. There's also Books of Wonder, where I go in real life, and Hicklebee's, where I wish I could go. If you think your dream book is OP (AKA out of print), there's Books In Print (to make sure), Stump the Bookseller (if you're vague on the details), ABEBooks, and the newest project from the Authors Guild, which allows authors to sell their own OP books: backinprint.com.
Many publishers' homepages are accessible through the CBC's Member List, but here are some to get you started.
All About Kids
As Simple as That
Blooming Tree Press
Boyds Mills Press
Brown Barn Books
Darby Creek Publishing
Faber and Faber
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Feiwel and Friends
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Gallaudet University Press, featuring books by, for, and about the deaf
Golden (now owned by Random House)
Green Mansion Press
Jewish Publication Society
HJ Kramer/New World Library
Lee and Low and Bebop Books
New World Library
New York Review Books
Orca Book Publishers
The Overlook Press
Oxford University Press
Other Penguins: Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and, of course, the UK
Pleasant Company, now owned by Mattel
Puffin UK, where it all began
Purple House Press
Raven Tree Press
Scholastic and its teen imprint, PUSH
Simon & Schuster
Snow Tree Books
Star Bright Books
Sylvan Dell Publishing
T&N Children's Publishing
Tor and its imprint, Starscape
University of New Mexico Press
Walker and Company
Walker Books (UK)
Wild Heart Ranch
Not the major library websites, but other, smaller libraries with specific child/teen oriented pages.
Berkeley Public (California)
Calgary Public (Canada)
Pickering, Ontario (Canada)
Richmond, BC (Canada)
Boulder Public Library Young Adult Advisory Board (Colorado)
Fort Collins Teen Lounge (Colorado)
Just for Kids (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Allen County Public Library (Fort Wayne, Indiana)
Monroe Public (Indiana)
TeenScene (Tippecanoe, Indiana)
Cedar Falls (Iowa)
Cambridge Public "Bookies" (Massachusetts)
Haverhill Teen Cyber Center (Massachusetts)
West Bloomfield Teen CyberLounge (Michigan)
Kid.Central@PPL (Princeton, New Jersey)
New York Public TeenLink (New York City)
New York Public Summer Reading
Bryant Library Teens Page (this was my library back in the day)
OH! Kids (Ohio)
Multnomah County (Oregon)
Teens Only/Carnegie Library (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
youth(wired) 3.0 (San Antonio, Texas)
Arlington Public (Virginia)
King County TeenZone (Washington State)
Tacoma Public (Washington State)
Gail Junion-Metz, School Library Journal's "The Librarian's Internet" columnist, has all of her links online.
More and more agents are going online.
Faye Bender Literary
Andrea Brown Literary Agency
The Chudney Agency
Curtis Brown (UK version)
Richard Curtis Associates
Dystel & Goderich Literary Management
Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency
FinePrint Literary Management
Folio Literary Management
Nancy Gallt Literary Agency
Barry Goldblatt Literary
Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
David Higham Associates
JABberwocky Literary Agency
Harvey Klinger, Inc.
Lindgren & Smith
Sterling Lord Literistic
Donald Maass Literary Agency Markson Thoma
The McVeigh Agency
Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency
Nelson Literary Agency
New Brand Literary Agency
Fifi Oscard Agency
Marly Rusoff & Associates
The Sagalyn Literary Agency
Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency
Spectrum Literary Agency
Transatlantic Literary Agency
Upstart Crow Literary
Internet Directory of Literary Agents
Writer Beware, an excellent resource
Agent Research & Evaluation, ditto
And finally, the very obvious Literary Market Place, or LMP for short
NOTE: Authors and illustrators now have six separate pages: Authors A-C, Authors D-F, Authors G-J, Authors K-O, Authors P-S, and Authors T-Z. Here too is an Author/Illustrator Name Pronunciation Guide.