Thursday, January 14, 2016

No love

The Youth Media Award winners were announced earlier this week and, while that is exciting and interesting, I know that some people are lamenting that the books they personally thought were best got "no love".

I believe that the ALA's Youth Media Awards (including, but not limited to, the Newbery, the Caldecott, and the Printz) are very important. I think they do good for the book world by encouraging authors to write and publishers to publish distinguished works of literature for young people. I believe that they open readers' eyes as to what books and what about those books are distinguished.

But they're not everything. And they can't be everything to everyone. And that's okay.

I also believe that if YOU LOVE a book, that matters. If a book speaks to you, if it's one that you booktalk to your patrons or students, if it's a book of your heart, that matters.

It's a difficult charge and a weird charge to narrow down the year's entire field of excellent books for young people and select ONE title to receive an award. And, really, there's no empirical way to do it, so every award every year is subjective. If a different committee of people had looked at the same books, they might have decided differently. If the same committee had looked at the same books a month later or a month earlier, they might have decided differently.

You might think that I mean that the awards don't mean anything, but really I think they mean quite a lot. Having gone through the experience of choosing a Newbery winner, I can tell you that committee members come to love their chosen books in a bigger way than I was able to imagine before I served.

I do believe that awards like the Newbery Medal are important. And I know that awards like the Newbery Medal make a difference in sales and print runs and that also is important.

But if you love a book, that's important, too.

So, please don't say that your favorite book got "no love". It has your love. It has the love of the people you've handed it to. Your favorite books are worthy of that love, even if they didn't win an official award. And that's far from nothing.

ETA: Katie Salo (a.k.a. Storytime Katie) and I were on the SAME wavelength today. Check out her post at the ALSC Blog about how participating in the Morris Seminar changed her views on book awards.