Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A New Year and a New Newbery

Ornaments and stockings are being packed away and the Christmas parties are over, but for those involved in any way with children's and YA literature, celebrations of a different kind are on the horizon! That's because the American Library Association (ALA)'s Youth Media awards will be announced on January 14! We're talking the Newbery and Caldecott awards, folks-the most prestigious awards an American children's author or illustrator can win. Other awards are announced as well, such as the Printz for the most oustanding YA book, the Geisel for the most oustanding easy reader, and many others.

Each award has a committee of children's and young adult librarians, children's literature specialist, and (occasionally) editors from professional journals of children's literature or librarianship (School Library Journal, The Horn Book, etc). It is a huge honor (and time committment) to be named to a committee, and often the highlight of a children's/YA librarian's career. The committee work is done in strict secrecy. The winners of the Newbery and Caldecott are not told until hours before the awards are announced (the publisher of the awards are notified as well-it's a major honor for the publishing houses to have published a Newbery and/or Caldecott winner).

The awards are announced at ALA's Midwinter conference. You can watch the live feed on ALA's website (however, I've had difficulty connecting to the feed for the past two years, so I rely on the other bloggers to post the news as it happens). The room in which the awards are announced are absolutely packed with people, and the big guns (Newbery and Caldecott) are the last awards to be announced.

However, there are several committees that do not work in (relative secrecy). The committees for the Children's Notables lists (separate lists for books, audio, and video) and Best Books for Young Adults post their nominations lists online (for members of Association for Library Service to Children and Young Adult Library Services Association, respectively, which are divisions of ALA). Committee work is conducted through email and mandatory meetings at conferences. Discussion of the final list is open to conference attendees, and the committee members discuss their selections. The BBYA meeting also includes teens in attendance (though not on the committee), and their attendance is definitely appreciated (the teens are on library advisory groups through their school or public library).

If you read Entertainment Weekly or any of the other pop culture magazines, you know that the writers and editors make predictions for the Oscars/Emmys/Grammys, etc. While you won't find predictions in School Library Journal/The Horn Book/etc (they often have staff on awards committees, so that wouldn't be allowed), that doesn't stop children's librarians and children's literature fans from making predictions!

"Mock Newbery" groups are in full swing, and you can eavesdrop on their activities.

Allen County Public Library will announce their Mock Newbery results this Saturday.

Anderson's Bookshop has its list up.

The Eva Perry Mock Newbery Club is one of the oldest Mock Newbery clubs.

Rhode Island's Office of Library and Information Services met today to discuss their selection.

Allen County Public Library also has a Mock Caldecott club.

As does the Rhode Island OLIS.

Wells County Public Library has a Mock Caldecott club too.

Much to consider!

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