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Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.
Newbery or not? That is the question
The Newbery Medal has been awarded once again. This year, it was given to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008), a deliciously creepy book about a boy brought up by ghosts after his parents' murder. (Clearly this is not a bedtime tale for the young or faint-hearted.)
The book meets the specified criteria used by the Newbery Committee in order to identify the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in English in the United States during the preceding year."
It's a daunting task; one that requires hours (and hours) of reading, thinking, and discussion. And each year there are those who say the award is not doing what it should.
A recent article in the Washington Post suggested that recent award winners have been too "complicated and inaccessible to most children" (note that Gaiman hadn't yet won; I think The Graveyard Book has huge reader appeal, particularly for readers 5th grade and above).
Interesting. It made me wonder if the Newbery is still relevant, and so I asked various people at the conference at which the awards were announced what they thought: IS the Newbery still relevant in today's multimedia world?
I spoke to librarians from across the country; publishers and editors, too. Without question, everyone agreed that the Newbery still had a valuable and valued place in the field of children's literature.
Librarians Kathie Meizner, Edie Ching, and Julie Corsaro, library school dean Susan Roman, Arthur Levine, publisher of Harry Potter, and Simon Boughton of First Second Books all agreed that it was still an important recognition of literature for children. Listen to their thoughts here.
Really, how many book awards and their recipients get time on the "Today Show" like the Newbery & Caldecott Medalists (along with a fine representative from ALA)? In my opinion, not nearly enough — so let's keep the conversation about books going, whatever it takes.