Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On Book Awards and Wading Through the Mire

I was purchasing a few books for William at this morning when I noticed that one of the books I selected, I Dream of Trains was listed as a Golden Kite Award Winner. HUH? After a bit of quick searching, I learned that the Golden Kite Awards are the only children’s literary award judged by a jury of peers. Books written by members of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators are eligible, with more than 1,000 books entered each year. You can view past winners in the categories of fiction, nonfiction and picture book illustration.

I am not trained in library science, nor am I an expert in reading. My PhD and MEd are both in science education. But from my first years in the classroom, particularly middle school, I found that keeping adolescents interested in science was easiest to do when they were engaged in activities AND reading interesting stuff. We subscribed to the Tuesday NY Times so they could read the science section. I had a huge classroom library of science and math books for them to read. They were actually interested in a wide range of topics when they had material beyond the textbook to inspire them. The March issue of Science and Children was always my favorite because of its review of outstanding books for science. You can check out this product of the collaboration between the NSTA and CBC at Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12. Each year I purchase print copies of this publication for the students in my Integrated Curriculum Methods class. They also get copies of Notable Trade Books for Young People, a collaboration between the NCSS and CBC. These are both terrific sources for new books.

I am overwhelmed by the number of "lists" out there relating to good books. They're almost impossible to keep up with. I have subscriptions to Booklinks and The Horn Book Magazine, two publications I use in my search for good books for the classroom. The Horn Book web site has a series of annotated reading lists of recommended books for children and young adults. The National Education Association has a list of Teachers' Top 100 Books, but is came out in 1999, is missing many great new books, and has some questionable inclusions (at least from my point of view). Random House has published a list of the 100 best novels, while Time Magazine lists the All-Time 100 Novels. Phew! See what I mean? Just too many lists to keep up with and this small collection doesn't even scratch the surface.

I once thought it was easier to build my collection by looking to award winners, but there are so many darned awards it's hard to know which ones to select. Here is a list of awards that I currently use in my book selection process:
  • ALA Newbery Medal
  • ALA Caldecott Medal
  • The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards
  • NCTE Orbus Pictus Nonfiction Award
  • Coretta Scott King Award
  • Pura Belpré Award
  • Sydney Taylor Book Award
  • Carter G. Woodson Award
  • Mildred L. Batchelder Award
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
  • New York Times Best Illustrated Books
  • The Green Earth Book Award
  • Eva L. Gordon Award

    I suppose now I'll need to add the Golden Kite Award to the list. For those of you more knowledgeable in these matters, please let me know if I have missed something.
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