Reading children's manuscripts for a publishing company is a specialized job that requires both a college degree and practical experience in the field. There are 80,000 book publishers in the United States, many of whom publish juvenile and children's fiction and nonfiction books.
Complete a college degree in Literature or English from an accredited university or college. Take a minor in a related field such as graphic design or art.
Read vast amounts of juvenile fiction and nonfiction. Editors and readers have broad reading experience in their areas of expertise. This allows a common language when discussing new literature (see link in References). Employers will expect potential employees to know the classics.
Work as an intern for a publishing house or printing firm. If these types of internships are not available in the geographic region where you live or go to school, consider a short-term or summer assignment. Interning allows practical experience in the field, and companies often hire interns for entry-level jobs when the term is over.
Immerse yourself in the world of publishing and the juvenile book market (see link in Resources). Learn the issues and the lingo.
Make a list of potential book publishers using the websites listed in the References and Resources sections. Most manuscript readers and editors begin at the small presses and gradually apply for jobs with greater responsibilities at larger presses.
Attend lectures and presentations given by authors who write popular children's literature. Listen for topics and themes that are mentioned in more than 1 presentation.
Develop a persuasive cover letter and compelling resume. These should stress your experience and interest in reading for a press that features children's literature. Network at publishing conferences, trade shows and Internet writing websites. Bring general letters and resumes to the conferences and, if asked, present these to attendees. Send follow-up emails or snail mail letters to the individuals met at the conference with your personal contact information.
High school and college students should tour juvenile printing companies to see the industry first hand. This also provides personal contacts for potential internships.
Obtaining a job in this field is difficult, but if you continue to build your skills, you'll have a greater chance for employment.