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The 2009 Cybils Shortlists

Posted by Jen Robinson on January 11, 2010 at 6:00 AM in AwardsRecommendations
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Cybils2009-150px.gifOn Thursday, Pam focused on three Cybils picture book finalists for her Thursday Three. Today I'd like to talk a bit more about the Cybils finalists in general, and why I think that they're such a great resource for parents, teachers, and librarians.

The Cybils are an annual series of book awards given by children's and young adult book bloggers. Now in their fourth year, the Cybils were started by Anne Boles Levy and Kelly Herold with a dual purpose:

"1. Reward the children's and young adult authors (and illustrators, let's not forget them) whose books combine the highest literary merit and "kid appeal." What's that mean? If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussel sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we're thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We're yummy and nutritious.

2. Foster a sense of community among bloggers who write about children's and YA literature, highlight our best reviewers (and shamelessly promote their blogs) and provide a forum for the similarly obsessed."

The Cybils award process is quite an undertaking. Each year, children's book fans nominate titles in a variety of categories ranging from picture books to young adult fiction and nonfiction. This year, 939 books were nominated across the different categories. Anyone who likes can nominate titles (one per category).

Once the nominations close, two rounds of judging ensue for each category. The judges are drawn from children's book bloggers, including authors and reviewers, people who immerse themselves year-round in their respective categories. Nearly 140 bloggers are involved in this volunteer-run effort. Many authors and publishers help by providing review copies, though panelists also buy, borrow, and share titles.

In each category, the first team of panelists weeds down the nominated titles to a shortlist of five to seven titles. Then a second panel selects a winner from that shortlist. This year, there are a total of 72 shortlist titles spread across a dozen sub-categories. The winners will be announced on February 14th (and we'll be sure to share the news here at Booklights).

This year, in addition to being the Literacy Evangelist for the Cybils (read: person who jumps up and down and tells people how great the Cybils are), I'm a second round judge for the Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction category. I'm currently reading my way through the seven shortlisted titles. I know from my experience in past years that selecting the best of the best will be a difficult task. That's because, honestly, every title that makes it onto the shortlists is amazing.

And that's why I'm telling you about the Cybils shortlists at Booklights. Where else can you find recommended titles, guaranteed to have both literary quality and kid appeal, helpfully grouped by age range and genre? There are thousands of children's and young adult books published every year. What the Cybils process does is start with those thousands, and then use an open nomination process to narrow down to roughly 1000 nominated titles, and then us a well-thought-out judging process to get the list down further to a few dozen recommendations. And although I'll be taking my round two judging seriously, my personal belief is that the most valuable thing that comes out of the Cybils are these shortlists. Are you looking for high-quality nonfiction picture books? Look here. Are you looking for middle grade graphic novels? Here you go. The Cybils shortlists are an excellent resource for anyone looking to match books to kids.

Here are the links to this year's Cybils shortlists (the Easy Reader and Short Chapter Books and Graphic Novels categories each are broken into two sub-lists, by age range):

Easy Readers & Short Chapter Books
Fantasy & Science Fiction (Middle Grade)
Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult)
Fiction Picture Books
Graphic Novels
Middle Grade Fiction
Non-Fiction Middle Grade/YA
Non-Fiction Picture Books
Young Adult Fiction

And here are links to printable versions of the shortlists from last year and the year before (each link opens a PDF file).

I hope that you'll find the Cybils shortlists a useful resource. I know I do.


Paige Y. writes...

I love the Cybils and someday would love to be a panelist. I especially admire the commitment the first round panelists have in getting so many books read in such a short time period. I agree with you that the shortlists are incredibly helpful. I use them for purchasing for my media center each year.

Jen RobinsonAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks so much for the feedback, Paige. I'm thrill to hear that you use the Cybils shortlists for purchasing decisions for your media center. That is exactly what we from the Cybils team like to hear. I'm with you regarding the first round panelists, too. I haven't been brave enough to take that responsibility on yet - so many books!! Hopefully you'll be able to be involved one of these years. Meanwhile, thanks again for the Cybils support.

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