Are you, as a parent, teacher or librarian, looking for well-written, kid-friendly books to recommend to your kids? If so, I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to learn about the Cybils awards. The Cybils are a series of book awards given by children's and young adult book bloggers in nine categories. The Cybils awards highlight books that have both literary merit and kid appeal. Anyone can nominate books (one nomination per person per category), resulting in a wide array of nominated titles (see the 2008 nomination lists here). Nominated titles in each category then go through a rigorous two-round selection process, the first to identify a short list of five to seven titles, and the second to select a winner. The judges for this process are children's and young adult book bloggers, including parents, teachers, librarians, authors, and literacy advocates. People who read, review, and recommend children's books every day.
The Cybils awards were founded by Anne Boles Levy and Kelly Herold. More than 80 participants are involved each year from the Kidlitosphere, in addition to many members of the public who nominate titles. I've been on the organizing committee for the Cybils since the awards were launced in 2006. My current title is Cybils Literacy Evangelist. Booklights' own Pam Coughlan was the organizer for the Fiction Picture Books category this year, while Susan Kusel was a tireless promoter for the Cybils (especially the new Easy Reader category) at Wizards Wireless.
The Cybils winners and short lists are an excellent source of well-written, engaging titles. They've been called the "organic chicken nuggets" of the children's book world. One of the best things about the Cybils is the range of categories, fiction and nonfiction for different age ranges, along with poetry, graphic novels, and fantasy and science fiction titles. The Cybils short lists have something for everyone!
Here are the Cybils winners to date:
Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction
2008: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, HarperCollins.
2007: The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, Disney/Hyperion.
2006: Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud, Hyperion: Miramax.
Fiction Picture Books
2008: How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham, Candlewick Press.
2007: The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County, written by Janice N. Harrington and illustrated by Shelley Jackson, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
2006: Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt, Kids Can Press. My review.
Middle Grade Graphic Novels
2008: Rapunzel's Revenge written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale and illustrated by Nathan Hale, Bloomsbury USA.
2007: Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel written by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano and Paolo Lamanna, Hyperion.
2006: Amelia Rules, vol. 3: Superheroes by Jimmy Gownley, Renaissance Press.
Young Adult Graphic Novels
2008: Emiko Superstar written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Steve Rolston, Minx.
2007: The Professor's Daughter written by Joann Sfar and illustrated by Emmanuel Guibert, First Second.
2006: American Born Chinese by Gene Yang, First Second.
Middle Grade Fiction
2008: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, David Fickling Books. My review.
2007: A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban, Harcourt. My review
2006: A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz, Candlewick. My review.
2008: The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir by Cylin Busby and John Busby, Bloomsbury USA. (I nominated this title!) My review.
2007: Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
2006: Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman, Holiday House.
Nonfiction Picture Books
2008: Nic Bishop Frogs by Nic Bishop, Scholastic Nonfiction.
2007: Lightship by Brian Floca, Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books.
2006: An Egg Is Quiet written by Dianna Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long, Chronicle Books. My review.
2008: Honeybee: Poems & Short Prose by Naomi Shihab Nye, HarperCollins.
2007: This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, Houghton Mifflin.
2006: Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes, Houghton Mifflin.
Young Adult Fiction
2008: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Hyperion.
2007: Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, Houghton Mifflin.
2006: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Knopf Books for Young Readers. My review.
You can find printable lists of the Cybils short lists for the past three years on the Cybils blog (in the right-hand sidebar), along with blurbs about each title. I think that these short lists are a tremendous resource. Think about it. Five to seven high-quality titles in each of the above categories, from each year. I think you'll find the lists well worth a look. And when the time comes for nominations for 2009 titles, I'll be sure to check back in with you for your input. Happy reading!