I have just finished up my term on the 2015 Newbery Committee and it's been just an amazing, awesome experience.
I've written before about what the Newbery Committee does, but I had no real idea what was in store for me this past weekend at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. I had no idea how close the committee members would all feel afterwards. I had no idea how stimulating and thought-provoking our discussions would be. I had an idea about how FUN the discussions would be, since I was able to sit in on Allen County Public Library's Mock Newbery discussion the weekend previous (very ethically observing and not participating!).
The Newbery Committee met all day on Friday and Saturday of the conference and then again on Sunday morning. We deliberated and discussed for hours, finally getting the chance to talk about the books we'd been reading all year. We followed the Newbery process and voted.
And we awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal to Kwame Alexander for his book The Crossover.
We selected two Newbery Honor books:
El Deafo by Cece Bell (yes, a graphic novel! Wow!!)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (look at all those award seals!!)
If you have not read all of these books, do yourself a favor and seek them out. I HIGHLY recommend each of them! (Apologies for blurry pictures... I did not get much sleep this weekend...)
I must send out huge thanks and love to all the members of our 2015 Newbery Committee. We have formed a close bond, going through this amazing experience together. It has truly been a life-changing experience. I think it has forever changed how I read; although I no longer have to take detailed notes on each book, I think I will always read more deeply than I used to. It has awakened in me a strong desire to discuss books with others; it's amazing the insights that come from talking about books you love, hate, or don't quite get. And, of course, it has changed children's literature forever (as each committee does every year).
In fact, this was quite a groundbreaking year for the ALA Youth Media Awards! Not only did the Newbery Committee honor a graphic novel, the Caldecott Committee honored a graphic novel in the upper part of their age range! For the Caldecott award, "children" are defined as "persons of ages up to and including fourteen " and "picture books for this entire age range are to be considered." It was definitely a bold choice, and one I'm happy to see. If we stop pushing the envelope as children's literature evolves, what are we even doing here?
A very special honor for me, personally, was that I got to be the one to text Cece Bell the news of her award! That very well may have been a Newbery first, and I'm so lucky to have been a part of it!
It has been an amazing experience for sure. I wish the 2016 Newbery Committee the BEST of luck and happy reading.
Now, enjoy this behind the scenes look at the Monday morning awards calls (at about 0:58 you can see me texting Cece Bell the news!):