Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference in Boston. The best part of Midwinter, besides thousands of librarians in one spot, is the Youth Media Awards…basically the Academy Awards for the literature world! At the YMA, some of the biggest book awards are announced, including the Newbery and Caldecott winners. It’s a very exciting time for all book lovers, and this was the first awards event I was able to attend.
I was INCREDIBLY invested in the awards last year, because during my student teaching we held a 2-month mock Caldecott with the 3rd-5th graders. Not only did my top pick take home the Caldecott gold last year (The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat, my absolute FAVORITE picture book EVER), but many of my favorites won awards besides the Caldecott. This year, working with 7/8 graders, I am completely out of the picture book world, so was looking forward to the middle grade and YA winners.
You can see the list of 2016 winners here: YMA Winners. The big winner of the day was definitely Matt de la Pena, taking home the Newbery and his story Last Stop on Market Street was awarded a Caldecott Honor (although that award really goes to the illustrator).
In lieu of discussing all the winners, I’ll discuss what books I was most happy to see take home an award. My highlight was seeing Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson win a Newbery Honor.
Within the past year I have tried to read a lot more graphic novels. They are popular with all age groups, and I found I was unable to recommend many because I just wasn’t familiar with them. I changed that by getting my hands on as many graphic novels as possible, and Roller Girl has been one of my favorites. The story follows Astrid, a girl in junior high who decides to take up roller derby one summer. Astrid’s best friend doesn’t enjoy it, and invests her time in dance. Astrid must learn how to make new friends, push herself beyond her limits, and understand the changes that come with growing up. It’s a heartwarming story that focuses on a sport unknown to many. I have been recommending this title to a lot of students, and am not finding its getting the attention I know it deserves.
I believe last year was a first for the Newbery committee, as a graphic novel took home a Newbery Honor. Now, with another graphic novel taking home a Newbery honor, I think we are going to see this format taking home more and more awards…who knows, perhaps next year a graphic novel will take home the Newbery gold!
My other highlight was seeing Kevin Henkes’s book, Waiting take home a Caldecott Honor. I have been a huge fan of Kevin Henkes since I was just a young tot.
Chrysanthemum and Jessica were stories I could read everyday. I met him in 2012 at a conference, and was able to hear him speak about his work. It was absolutely magical for me.
I will be ordering the winning titles for the library, that we don’t already have. The ones we do have in the collection, I put out for display. I will be drawing attention to them all week. If you want any of your own copies check Eight Cousins. You’re never too old for a good picture book or graphic novel!