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A great way to celebrate the ALA Youth Media Awards

Post by Rebecca Honeycutt
Posted February 03, 2015 in Kids & Book News, NoveList Plus, Readers' Advisory News, Special Announcements

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There was confetti in the air yesterday as our NoveList staff celebrated the Newbery win of Kwame Alexander's The Crossover, a much-beloved favorite in our office and among young readers. There may even have been actual tears of joy. (I'm not telling whose they were.)

It's my job to be excited about things like today's announcement of ALA's Youth Media Awards winners, but it's also ridiculously fun. And while dishing about the surprises and upsets -- This One Summer (Mariko Tamaki, illus. Jillian Tamaki) winning both Printz and Caldecott honors?! -- is always entertaining, the best part of award announcements is the delicious thrill of knowing how many more kids and teens will soon be reading these awesome books.

YMA Contender Cupcakes!

This year was even more thrilling for me, since so many of the award winners and honorees are not only high quality works, but also of high interest for young readers.  Because let's face it: high quality and kid appeal often overlap, but not always. Sometimes even the most worthy award winners can be a tough sell when you're recommending them to a real live kid.  But so many of today's winners were passed around and squealed over because we knew that kids and teens would adore them.  Books like The Crossover, Morris winner Gabi, A Girl in Pieces (Isabel Quintero), and Printz winner I'll Give You the Sun (Jandy Nelson) are so very different in style, but they all speak authentically to the emotional experience of kids or teens. 

Illustrated biographies like Sibert winner/Caldecott honoree The Right Word (Jen Bryant, illus. Melissa Sweet), Coretta Scott King and Sibert honoree Josephine (Patricia Hruby Powell, illus. Christian Robinson), and Newbery honoree El Deafo (Cece Bell) bear little resemblance to one another visually, but are all so eye-catching and engrossing that you can give them to kids to read for pleasure as well as information. And those are just handful of the many reader-friendly books in the 2015 YMAs roster.

Now we've eaten our celebratory cupcakes and wiped away the happy tears, my colleagues and I are getting to work to ensure that soon, each book on that 2015 award roster leads to a read-alike recommendation for another great book, and another…and we encourage you to do the same. Use the momentum of these awards to encourage youth to expand their reading experiences, dig deeper into the genres they already like, and replace their old favorites with new ones. This is a chance to share the excitement, drama, and fun of award announcements with young readers -- embrace it! (Confetti optional.)

Rebecca Honeycutt is a NextReads Bibliographer at NoveList.