Monday, September 7, 2015

ALA Youth Media Awards

My school librarian friend in Alabama, Benji Martin, invited me to join his blog, Newbery Pie. I had stagnated on my Newbery Challenge, where I had intended to read all the medal and honor books from the present going backwards, getting stuck in 1996. Even though, Benji's challenge is the medal books in chronological order, joining him has been a rewarding (and productive) experience. I think what I enjoy most is messaging someone so regularly to discuss books. Thank you again Benji!

Yesterday we posted our 2016 Newbery Predictions and I have a few additional thoughts.

1) Award committee members: thank you for your commitment. When deciding which books to predict, I realized I had a whole shelf of MG books I had not read. Then there are those that will be released in the next 4 months. Your commitment to readers, author and the ALA/ALSC/YALSA/other committees is admirable. I am honored to share the title of librarian with many of you, especially Scholastic's Ambassador for School Libraries, John Schumacher (served on the 2014 Newbery Committee and selected Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate diCamillo; illustrated by K. G. Campbell), and the Yarn costar, Travis Jonker (served on the 2014 Caldecott Committee and selected Locomotive).

2) Authors and illustrators: I know awards are prestigious and having your work honored must be an amazing achievement (not to mention the bonus of selling more books), but what you do is magical, even if your book doesn't have a shiny gold/silver sticker on it. When Benji threw in the question about the Caldecott, I wanted to list 15 books. Even though it is nowhere in the criteria for any award, my favorite books are those that make me feel something. Her illustrations are amazing, but I chose Yard Sale, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Lauren Castillo, because out of all the picture books I have read to my girls this summer, it is the one they mention the most. They find connections to it everywhere.  Also, at age 7, my youngest daughter doesn't always think about the feelings of others. I love the way Yard Sale is teaching her empathy. We also love The Troublemaker and Nana in the City. The latter has a shiny sticker, but the girls would love it even if it didn't. Books were always with me during the hardest times of my life; just last week I got lost in the world of 1960's Berlin depicted in Jennifer Nielson's A Night Divided while a family member was in the hospital. A world without children's books would be like living in East Germany during that time. Thank you for giving your time and talent to children (and grownups)!

Bottom line - I'm going to paraphrase Travis Jonker in response to the outrage over certain books not being honored for the Caldecott in 2014. A good book before the awards will still be a good book after the awards.

PS: #teamballetcat - It was an instant decision. We still love E&P in this house; I'm sure we'll be reading 3-4 tonight and then Snicker of Magic.

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