Why That Book

When awards and honors and lists are announced, I sometimes haven’t read the books.

I read a lot; I tend to like the kinds of books that get awards and on lists; and I like to predict what will be on the lists. So, it makes sense that often I’ve already read the books on the lists.

Sometimes — no, let’s be honest, often — I haven’t read a good many of the books. Last year’s Printz? I hadn’t read any of the Honor Books. This year’s NBA shortlist? Only read two of the five.

What’s nice about reading the books after they get the nod is I can read with the knowledge “this got a nod” and then read the book thinking, “what did they see in this book?” I know I’m about to read something good, and I read looking for the good.

For those reading the NBA Young People’s Lit shortlist, we have a bit of a bonus this year: the judges have shared some of their thoughts!

Both Nikki Grimes and Will Weaver have blogged about the shortlists. Nikki Grimes at May I Have Your Attention, Please: “We read, discussed, and deliberated over these books for four months, and we chose as carefully and thoughtfully as we could. The work was arduous, and the hours long, but we considered it an honor, and handled it accordingly.” Will Weaver at The Best of The 2011 Books for Young People explains, “our five judges each have written a summary of one book.  It doesn’t matter which judge wrote which summary; we are a group, a cohort of authors that read, discussed, had conference calls, argued, lobbied, laughed, cringed (at the error when the finalists were announced), got angry, discussed–well, you get the drift.” So, while those blog posts are unique (and you should click through to both of them!) the summaries of the books are identical.

At this point, I’ve read all five books, I just haven’t posted reviews of all of them yet. At this point, there are two questions — what do I want to be the winner, and what do I think the judges will pick as the winner.


4 thoughts on “Why That Book

  1. Last year I read the Printz winner and 3 of 4 Honors before the awards were announced. The previous year I hadn’t read the winner and only 1 of 4 Honors. Ouch. I like your perspective on reading after-the-fact and looking “for the good.” But I have to admit I’m bummed when I haven’t read the cited titles; it makes feel left out.

    How would you feel if the Printz and Newbery committees published the list of nominated titles in advance of the awards? The Newbery and Caldecott committees did this for four years in the early- to mid-seventies.

    You can read about it here:


    about halfway down the page.

    I was in my early teens at the time and these lists changed my life as a reader. Each year I’d spend months tracking down the nominated books, reading them, evaluating them. I think that if the Printz and Newbery committees tried this experiment again today — in the age of blogs and online discussions — the response from the public would be amazing.

    What do you think?



  2. Not that Peter was asking ME, but I’m for publishing the lists of nominated books! I think that WOULD get people buzzing ahead of time and also call attention to a lot more good books! For the past few years I’ve been trying to read the Newbery ahead of time– no luck this past year, and for this coming year I think I’ve given up. It would be interesting to get a short list to pay attention to. But then, maybe THIS way more books DO get read, without people focusing so much just on the nominees!


  3. Peter, I’m not sure how I feel about releasing the nomination lists. Being a list junkie…part of me says, bring it on! But I wonder what was the overlap, if any, between Newbery & Notables, and whether (esp today) there would be any type of issue between those 2 or between Printz/BFYA. (ie, “why wasn’t it on this list when it was on that list” type of thing).

    rockinlibrarian and peter — do you think there is more buzz for the Morris titles and NF titles because the shortlists are announced? Do you think last years release of the NF nominationsn got those books more buzz than if those books appeared on bbya?

    Michelle, I’d love to see CHIME win, but if I were betting, my money would be on OKAY FOR NOW.


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