We've been talking about children's book awards on Booklights quite a bit lately because award season is in now full swing. Why are we so interested in which books win the awards?
For one thing, the lists of the winners and honor books make excellent reading lists and offer good suggestions for a child looking for the next book to read.
And for another, (particularly in the case of the Caldecott and the Newbery medals) schools and libraries are more likely to buy the books that win the awards. That means they'll be readily available and it's more likely that your children may read them.
Some (not all) of the award winners turn into classics. Where the Wild Things Are won the Caldecott medal and A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery Medal. The classics aren't always award winners though. Dr. Seuss never won the Caldecott medal, although he did receive three honors. Eric Carle has never won a Caldecott medal or an honor.
A few words of caution before you dive into the award lists, though. It's important to know what the award was actually given for. For an example, let's look at two different awards for picture books. The Randolph Caldecott medal is awarded to the book with the best illustrations. (The Caldecott is actually only given to the illustrator, not the author.) The Charlotte Zolotow award, which Ann wrote about is given to the picture book with the best writing. The Lion and the Mouse, this year's Caldecott favorite, could never have won the Zolotow award. It's a wordless book. But the illustrations are incredible.
Also, make sure to check that the book is appropriate for your child. Not every award winner is for every kid. Take a look at part of the Newbery criteria:
A "contribution to American literature for children" shall be a book for which children are an intended potential audience. The book displays respect for children's understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen, and books for this entire age range are to be considered.
For example, the The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo won the 2004 Newbery medal and is generally recommended to ages nine and up (although some children read it at a younger age.) The 2005 Newbery medalist was Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata which is generally recommended for ages 11-14. These two books both meet the Newbery criteria but they have two very different audiences and are intended for different age groups.
I mentioned the ALA Youth Media Awards in my post last week. The Newbery and Caldecott are the most famous children's book awards given by the American Library Association, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. The press conference where the announcements are made is an hour and a half long and many, many awards are given. It's well worth checking out the lists of past winners and honors of these awards while we wait to find out which books will be getting the awards this year. Below is a list of all the awards that will be announced at the press conference on January 18. The official description of each award is from the the appropriate American Library Association (ALA) division's website.
Awards administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC):
The John Newbery Medal
The Newbery Medal honors the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal
The Caldecott Medal honors the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
The Arbuthnot award honors an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children's literature, of any country, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site.
The Pura Belpré Medal
The Belpré Medal honors a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose works best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
The Mildred L. Batchelder Award
The Batchelder Award is given to an American publisher for a children's book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States.
The Andrew Carnegie Medal
The Carnegie Medal honors the producer of the most outstanding video production for children released during the preceding year.
The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal
The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children's literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year.
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
The Sibert Medal honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
The Wilder Medal honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. (This award is only given every other year. Since it was awarded last year, the next winner will be announced in 2011.)
Awards administered by The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA):
Michael L. Printz Award
The Printz Award honors excellence in literature written for young adults.
The Alex Awards
The Alex Awards are given annually to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.
The Margaret A. Edwards Award
The Edwards Award honors an author and a specific work for significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens.
The William C. Morris YA Debut Award
The Morris Award honors a book written for young adults by a first-time, previously unpublished author. The first award was given in 2009.
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
YALSA's newest award honors the best nonfiction book for young adults; the first winner will be named this year.
Jointly administered by ALSC and YALSA:
The Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production
The Odyssey Award is awarded annually to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.
Under the auspices of the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT):
The Coretta Scott King Awards
The Coretta Scott King Awards are given to African American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.
The John Steptoe New Talent Awards
The John Steptoe New Talent Awards affirm new talent and offer visibility to excellence in writing or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published book creator.
Under the auspices of the American Library Association:
The Schneider Family Book Awards
The Schneider Family Book Awards honors an author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for children and teens. The award is given in three categories: birth through grade school, middle school, and teens.
Follow the announcements live on January 18th:
Be sure to tune in on January 18 . You can either watch the live webcast or get updates via Twitter to find out this year's winners. You may be able to hear me screaming on the webcast.... I'll be in the audience at the press conference at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston. Look for a 2010 ALA award post game analysis here on Booklights next week.