The milk and cookies are waiting by the fireplaces, stockings are hung, candles are lit in windows the world over and you know what that means? The book award fairies are on their way to spread holiday cheer and shiny gold and silver stickers as they do every year for a few very special books.
It’s mock Newbery season and many library systems and bookstores around the country are posting the results from their hard working mock Newbery and mock Caldecott groups. Here are some links to the ones I know about.
If you’ve ever wondered how those sticker wearing books are chosen here are some links to the criterion for a few of the Middle Grade eligible awards.
If you like to follow the conversation about this years books, Heavy Medal
provides lively and informative chat about this year’s crop of contenders.
And here’s the unsung part of the book award story. The librarians who serve on these book award committees usually do so without extra pay. They travel to several meetings in their award-choosing year. They spend countless hours on email communicating with committee members about the titles, and they read hundreds of books. Here’s the thing that surprised me most about the committee members. They often read books many times over. I heard from one committee member that she read a title eight times–a title that didn’t get a sticker in the end. The final winning books are sometimes read many more times than that.
As an author, it would be easy to be discouraged by how few books are singled out for award stickers each year. But here’s something that I have found very encouraging. Each award committee is made up of librarians from across the country and those librarians, following their year of service on an award committee, go back to their communities and advocate for the books they loved, but perhaps didn’t give a sticker to, to be included on state reading lists for children’s choice book awards and Battle of the Books lists.
These state level book awards, though they don’t get the fanfare of a national award are the engine that keeps literary fiction for children in print. Year after year, librarian’s around the country work very hard to choose a list of books for their local readers which are deep and diverse and have the potential to become classics. What I love is that these state reading lists are not the same fare being pushed at the local big box store. They are not always the books that are already best sellers or have a huge marketing push. They really look for those gems that will serve their children well. So if you’re looking for that next great read for a child in your life, look no further than your own state’s reading lists. These programs are generally found under
So for all you hard working librarians out there, thank you from all of us at the Mixed Up Files for your hard work in championing excellence in children’s books and for sharing your favorites far and wide. Joy and peaceful hours of good reading in your new year!
For all you teachers and parents and writers out there, is there a librarian who’s made a difference in your life? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.