Friday, February 1, 2019

A Step Towards Inclusion, but the Journey's Not Complete

This year, for the first time, the recipients of the winners of youth literature awards from ALA's affiliate organizations were announced at the Youth Media Awards announcements. This includes the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA)'s Literary Award, the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Award, and the American Indian Library Association's American Indian Youth Literature Award (which is announced in even years, so there were no winners to announce this year).

Due to time constraints, only the winners of these awards were announced and that resulted in some justifiable indignation that the honor books were left out. I want to focus first on the books here, so here are the winners AND honorees of the APALA Literary Award and the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Then keep reading for more thoughts.

2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature:
Full press release here.

Young Adult Winner: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Dial)
Young Adult Honor: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan (Little, Brown)


Children's Winner: Front Desk by Kelly Yang (Scholastic)
Children's Honor: The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio (Wendy Lamb)


Picture Book Winner: Drawn Together by Minh L√™, illustrated by Dan Santat (Disney-Hyperion)
Picture Book Honor: Grandmother's Visit by Betty Quan, illustrated by Carmen Mok (Groundwood Books)

Sydney Taylor Book Award (Association of Jewish Libraries):
Full press release here.


Younger Readers Gold Medalist:
All of a Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky (Schwartz & Wade)

Younger Readers Silver Medalists:
A Moon for Moe and Mo by Jane Breskin Zalben, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini (Charlesbridge)
Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPr√©  (Knopf)


Older Readers Gold Medalist:
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (Puffin)

Older Reader Silver Medalists:
All Three Stooges by Erica S. Perl (Knopf)
The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman (Dial)


Teen Gold Medalist:
What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper (Knopf)

Teen Silver Medalist:
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Simon Pulse)

The American Indian Youth Literature Award is presented in even years, so there were no awards announced for 2019.

During the announcements, ALA President Loida Garcia-Febo did mention that there were honor books that could be found on the organizations' websites, but they were still difficult to track down. Twitter erupted with justified indignation that the honor books for these awards were not announced (only the winners proper). Jody Gray, director of the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services, offered this response, which has not been as widely shared on social media. Go and read it, I'll wait.

I think it's important to note that this is the first year of adding these awards to the announcements and there are many moving pieces to the scheduling puzzle that are really difficult to navigate. I regret that anyone felt left out and excluded when I know the intent of this change was to be more inclusive. I think it's important that we continue to work towards a better solution. I myself would have loved to hear about the honor books at the announcements. Many of them I haven't read and I am so glad to be exposed to them now (my holds list at the library has grown so long!). I believe that ALA is listening and I also believe that we can do better and that ALA wants to work towards that.