Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year Everyone! Newbery discussion

Happy New Year! I hope you all have a wonderful and book filled 2009. I know that 2008 has been a hard year for many of you and that you are worried about the future. Hopefully things will start to get better soon, and these trying times will soon be behind us. In the meantime we can read, talk to one another, and celebrate the best of children's literature.

Lately there has been a lot of talk about whether the Newbery Awards are becoming too "complicated and inaccessible" to children and are therefore turning children off reading. I have been thinking about this a lot and though I can understand where this concern is coming from, I don't think this is true. Though I have not always liked the winners, I have never had a problem understanding why they were awarded the medal. You can see a complete list of the winners and honor books here on the ALA website.
I would be interested to know what you think about this. Do you think the Newbery Awards still have merit? Which Newbery Award winners do you like the most? Are there any that you really don't like? I have to confess that I did not really like The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread but I loved Crispin: The Cross of Lead.
All the best and again, Happy New Year.

2 comments:

Noel De Vries said...

Any annual award is going to encounter duds. I agree that recent selections have gravitated toward death, absence of parents, etc. I am NOT a fan of these issue books, unlike most librarians, who will tell you that kids are dealing with issues, and need books to help them through. But as a reader, and a librarian, I honor the award because of its long history.

In the Washington Post piece, Calkins wants books that are “deep and beautiful and irresistible to kids.” Me too. But there is one Newbery winner each year. Schools use many novels in class each year. The argument that “if the Newbery committee aimed to spotlight” deep books, “thousands, even millions, more children would grow up reading” — it’s just not logical.

How about, “I can’t help but believe that thousands, even millions, more children would grow up reading if THEIR PARENTS aimed to spotlight books that are deep and beautiful and irresistible to kids.”

Now that I can get behind.

Marya Jansen-Gruber said...

I agree with you Noel. Parents, teachers, and librarians are the ones who can really help children find books that excite them. We just have to take the time to do it.