Book Award Season is almost here! YALSA has announced the shortlists for the William C Morris Debut Author Award and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-Fiction.
I geek out about Book Award Season. But one thing I've noticed lately in talking with friends and co-workers is that not a lot people either know what the award books are or they don't make it a point to read them.
I work in a library, so I'll admit I was a bit shocked when I found out several of my co-workers don't obsessively keep track of mock lists and book buzz. Several of my library co-workers didn't even know what the Printz Award was! OK, so I know not everyone is going to wake up early on announcement day and check their Twitter feed for results. But I like to think that I'm not the only one who knows about these awards and tries to keep up. Isn't it our job to keep up with current literature and wouldn't that mean award books included?
I think most people-either working in a library setting or not-are aware of the Newbery and Caldecott Awards. If you went to library class in elementary school, chances are good you read these books and heard about them. So what happens after that? Why are the other awards not known or recognized? The Printz Award is on the same level as those two awards, yet it's not known. And if you watch the Today Show interviews that happen after the award announcements, it's always the Caldecott and Newbery authors, not the Printz. So where's the love for YA?
My library sadly doesn't do much with Award Books. (I'm working on that!) We keep one copy of all the Caldecott titles in reference so we always have one on hand for storytime, but that's about it. Some of the winning books get stickered, but never the Printz winner. We actually do more with our state book awards which are required reading for students than with anything else. But shouldn't we be recognizing the other award books? These are awarded by our profession by those in our profession and even if we might not agree each year with the choices, we should still be proud of our ALA Award Books.
I guess there's a stigma that comes with award books that adults love them and kids hate them. Yes, this is true on many titles and it's often debated in the library world. And I think that stigma somewhat carries over in the outside world. If you had to read a Newbery winning book as a kid and hated it, you might think they're all bad. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the award books completely. Often times an award will go to a book that wasn't on my radar and then I'll discover something great. And just because the award books might not appeal to all your readers, that doesn't mean there's not a reader out there waiting for that book. Even if you're not a librarian, you can use the award lists to pick out books for your child or teen. The Popular Paperbacks list and the Best Fiction for Young Adults contain lists of great books for teens.
How do we get the Award Books recognized not only in the library profession but with our library patrons as well? Can we break the stigma of award books? And can we get some love and recognition for the awards other than the Newbery and Caldecott? Can we please start getting some more love for YA and the Printz Award?
So I'm wondering if you know about the ALA Award Books. Do you keep track of them and read them? Do you promote them in your library? And if not, why not?