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Susan: January 2010 Archives


Write it down

Posted by Susan on January 27, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Recommendations
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What book(s) did you you read to your kids last night? What book did your kids read to themselves? What book did you read?

I recently asked my friends this question, and got an incredibly varied response. It ranged from Harry Potter to the Berenstain Bears. From Little House in the Big Woods to Captain Underpants. From Raggedy Ann to Star Wars. From Richard Scarry's Best First Book Ever to Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. (Okay, so that last one didn't have a lot of range.)

One of the fun things about the summer reading program at my library is that the kids get a reading log to record all the books they read that summer. It's so fascinating to see their lists. Some kids read the minimum number of books they need to receive the prize. Others fill up the whole log. Some kids even attach extra pieces of paper to their lists. Regardless of how long or short the list is, every time I look at one, I get a sense of who that child is.

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could look back at a list of books your child (or you) read? Not just over the summer, but for the whole year? How about if you could see the titles of all (or most) the books they read while they were growing up? Can you imagine what a priceless gift that would be to both you and your child?

It doesn't matter if your journal looks like this:

Book of Kells.jpg

or this:

legal pad.jpg

or this:

good reads.gif

It doesn't matter if you arrange it by day (for picture books) or by date the book was finished (for chapter books) or by year. (However you do it, I recommend numbering your entries).

It doesn't matter if you include just the title, date and author in your entry. Or if you write down your kid's reactions to the book such as "Emily loved putting her fingers through the holes of everything the hungry caterpillar ate." Or "John just wanted to find Goldbug on each page." Or "Jennifer didn't like the part with the Wicked Witch of the West."

The only thing that matters is having one. How do you make that happen?

Step 1: Answer the question that was at the top of this post: What book(s) did you you read to your kids last night? What book did your kids read to themselves? What book did you read?

Step 2: Write it down.

Step 3: Repeat daily.

I'd love to see what you and your kids did read last night. Please comment!


An ALA Kind of Day

Posted by Susan on January 20, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Awards
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Monday was a huge day in the children's literature world as the American Library Association's (ALA) Youth Media Awards were announced. Curious about what won? Read the full press release here.

Check out our predictions and see how we did. Here's mine and here's Pam's Caldecott and Newbery predictions.

Maybe you watched the live webcast of the press conference. Or followed the updates on Twitter. Or read about the results online or in the newspaper. Maybe you saw the interviews with the Caldecott and Newbery medal winners on Tuesday morning's Today Show. Or maybe, you're just finding out about it all now.

What to know more? Here's my in-depth look at some of the highlights from January 18, 2010. Wondering what all these awards are? Take a look at this post.

5 am: Committee members woke up and headed over to the convention center.

6 -7 am: Phone calls were made to the illustrator or author of the books that won or received honors. As I walked through the convention center on my way to the press conference, I could hear the shouts of joy and applause from the press booth as the committees made their phone calls. Check out these photos of Grace Lin recieving her Newbery Honor call.

6:30 am- 7 am: Multitudes of people (including librarians, publishers, editors, writers and me) slog their way through heavy sleet, freezing temperatures and unbelievable wind to get to the press conference.

IMG_4241.JPG7 am: A crowd starts started to gather in front of the Grand Ballroom at the Boston Convention Center.

7:30 am: All over the country, booksellers and librarians log into the live webcast. Some are just curious, but others are all business as they try to order the winning books the second they are announced. They're ready to pick up the phone or place an online order for anything they don't already have in stock.

7:35 am: The doors open and the vast, excited, chattering crowd full of anticipation makes its way into the ballroom.

7:40 am: Twitter starts buzzing with comments.

My People.jpg7:45 am: The press conference gets off to a rollicking start as the Alex Awards, the Schneider Family Awards and the Coretta Scott King (CSK) awards are announced. Marcelo in the Real World gets a great audience response as it wins the Schneider Family teen book award. There is thunderous applause as Walter Dean Myers is announced as the first ever winner of the Virginia Hamilton life time achievement award. This is his 12th Coretta Scott King Award. My People, a book that aches to be read aloud, wins the CSK illustrator award and Bad News for Outlaws takes home the CSK author award. Kekla Magoon wins the John Steptoe New Talent Award for The Rock and the River.

flashburnout.jpg8 am: The YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) awards are announced. Jim Murphy becomes the first winner of the Margaret Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award to be honored for non-fiction books! The crowd is delighted. (Check out his books, they're wonderful). The new YALSA non-fiction award goes to Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith. The YA Morris debut award goes to Flash Burnout. Onto the big one, the Printz award for excellence in Young Adult Literature. There's earsplitting applause as Going Bovine wins. Then slowly the realization hits the onlookers that Marcelo in the Real World (one of the predicted favorites) didn't win the Printz award or an honor. The audience starts to talk amongst itself. The booksellers watching from their homes or stores, get on the phone with their sales reps or distributors immediately to make sure they have plenty of copies of Going Bovine.

Book Fiesta.jpg8:15 am: Onto the ALSC awards. Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken wins the Odyssey Award. The Pura Belpré awards are announced. Book Fiesta! by Pat Mora, the founder of ALSC's Dia de los niños wins the Belpré illustrator award. Julia Alvarez gets the Belpré author award for Return to Sender. A Faraway Island wins the Batchelder. Lois Lowry adds the Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award to her considerable resume.

8:25 am: Random House accidentally posts on Twitter that When You Reach Me has won the Newbery Medal.... 13 minutes before the Newbery is actually announced.

Benny and Penny.jpg8:30 am: Almost Astronauts takes home the Siebert Medal. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus wins the Carnegie Medal and the crowd is treated to a clip of the irascible pigeon. A few minutes later, Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! becomes the first graphic novel ever to win the Geisel Award. Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books are shut out of the Geisel (after winning two straight years in a row.) But hey, Mo won the Carnegie, which is his 6th award in the same number of years. I think he'll survive.

8:34 am: Time for the Caldecotts. I'm holding my breath, hoping The Lion and the Mouse doesn't show up as an honor book (which would mean it wouldn't have won the medal). Marla Frazee wins her second Caldecott Honor in two years for the beautiful book All the World. Pamela Zagarenski wins a Caldecott Honor for her wonderful mixed media and computer illustrations in Red Sings from Treetops.

lion and the mouse with medal.gif8:35 am: Drumroll as everyone waits to find out the Caldecott winner. And it's The Lion and the Mouse!!! Jerry Pinkney finally won the medal 21 years after his first of five Caldecott honors. There is earth shattering applause as the crowd goes crazy for this stunningly beautiful book and its wonderfully talented creator.

8:36 am: The applause keeps going. A picture appears on the big screen of the The Lion and the Mouse with a Caldecott Medal on its gorgeous cover.

8:37 am: And now it's Newbery time. A surprising number of people in the crowd are follwing Twitter and Facebook during the annoucements via their phones and laptops, so sadly, this is a bit anticlimatic since the winner has already been leaked. Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice wins its third honor of the day (it also was recognized by the Siebert and YALSA non-fiction committees. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a lovely historical fiction book filled with great characters, wins a Newbery honor. Grace Lin's beautiful and timeless book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon wins one too. The humorous Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg wins a surprise Newbery honor.

When you reach me.jpg8:38 am: When You Reach Me is officially declared the Newbery winner. This book is a bit on the older side (recommended for grades 5-8) and it's a fantastic, wonderful book with a surprise ending. The crowd goes wild as When You Reach Me wins. Rebecca Stead wins the Newbery 47 years after the book it was based on, A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery.

8:40 am: The crowd in the room grab press releases as they slowly meander their way out. Tons of side conversations start. The crowd at home logs off from the webcast. Exhausted book buyers hang up their phones, turn off their computers and then race around to find every last copy of every book that won an award or honor.
8:45 am: A multitude of reactions to the awards start to get posted on a multitude of blogs. Listserv discussions begin.

9 am: When You Reach Me is # 613 on Amazon's list of bestsellers (this includes all books, not just children's books.)

9:30 am: The award committee members finally get to eat breakfast.

9 pm: When You Reach Me is # 23 on Amazon's list of bestsellers.

9:50 am on Tuesday: Jerry Pinkney and Rebecca Stead are interviewed on the Today Show.

10 am on Tuesday: When You Reach Me is # 4 on Amazon's list of bestsellers.

Wondering why I have exact times such as 8:37 am in this post? I ventured onto Twitter (something I rarely do) and tweeted my reactions while sitting at the press conference.

Medal stickersCurious about how Caldecott and Newbery books (and all the rest) get their shiny stickers? Here's the answer, to the best of my knowledge.

What were you doing between 7:45 - 8:35 am on Monday morning? Were you at the press conference? Did you follow the webcast? What about Twitter or Facebook? Or were you (quite understandably) asleep?

Got opinions about the awards? I'd love to hear them.


Even more awards!

Posted by Susan on January 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM in AwardsRecommendations
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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.

Where the Wild Things Are.jpgSome (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.

Despereaux.jpgFor 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):

Mixed Up Files.jpgThe 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.

Esperanza Rising.jpgThe 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.

Are You Ready.jpgThe 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):

Monster.jpgMichael 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.

Jazz.jpgJointly 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

We are the Ship.jpgThe 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:

Rules.jpgThe 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.


Favorite Caldecott and Newbery Medal Books

Posted by Susan on January 6, 2010 at 12:00 AM in AwardsRecommendations
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January is a month of wild speculation in the children's literature world. With the ALA Youth Media Awards on the verge of being announced, everyone is trying to guess what books will win this year's Caldecott and Newbery medals. The answer will come on January 18 at an early morning press conference held by the Association of Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association).

Lion and Mouse.jpgWho will walk away the winners this year? After receiving 5 Caldecott honors, will Jerry Pinkney finally earn the Caldecott medal for The Lion and the Mouse? Will Jacqueline Kelly earn the Newbery medal for her debut novel, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate?

While we wait anxiously with the potential winners to find out whose telephone will ring on January 18, here are a few things we know for certain:

The winning books, whichever ones they happen to be, will be completely sold out within hours of the announcement. They will be purchased by nearly every school, library and bookstore (with a children's department) in the country. With very few exceptions, they will never go out of print.

The winners receive a phone call from the entire 15 member committees shortly before the official announcement at the press conference. If the ALA Midwinter meeting is on the East Coast (this year it's in Boston), a winner who lives in California can expect to get a phone call around 3 a.m. I love hearing the stories that authors and illustrators tell about when they got "the call."

I'm curious to know which past winners are your favorites. Since so many schools and libraries buy the winning books, you may have read more than you realize.

Here are my favorite Caldecott winners. This list changes every time I put it together:.

Hugo Cabret.jpg2008: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
2007: Flotsam by David Wiesner
2005: Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
2004: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
2002: The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
1996: Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
1994: Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
1992: Tuesday by David Wiesner
1991: Black and White by David Macaulay
1986: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
1980: Ox-Cart Man, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: Donald Hall
1968: Drummer Hoff illustrated by Ed Emberley; text: adapted by Barbara Emberley
1965: May I Bring a Friend? illustrated by Beni Montresor; text: Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
1964: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
1955: Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper, illustrated by Marcia Brown; text: translated from Charles Perrault by Marcia Brown
1954: Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans
1943: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
1942: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

The list of all the Caldecott medal books is here and the full list including both medal and honor books is here.

I'm more of a picture book person (as you can probably tell from the list above) but I do have several favorite Newbery medal winners.

Graveyard Book.jpg2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
1999: Holes by Louis Sachar
1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
1982: A Visit to William Blake's Inn by Nancy Willard
1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
1945: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

The list of all the Newbery medal books is here and the full list including both medal and honor books is here.

Be sure to tune in on January 18 via Twitter and/or a live webcast to find out this year's winners.

Want to find out more about how the winners are selected.? ALSC has put together a great list of answers to frequently asked questions about the awards.

What are your favorite Caldecott and Newbery medal books and why? Have you ever tried (successfully or unsuccessfully) to read all the winners? Got any predictions for this year? I'd love to hear about it.

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