The 2019 ALA Youth Media Awards announcements happened to coincide with the home stretch of a long road trip, which at first confounded me. How could I possibly watch the Livestream, share reactions on Twitter, place holds on library books, order titles from Amazon, AND drive at the same time?? But I was confounded for only a moment. I had to sacrifice Twitter, but thanks to three cell phones, one laptop, a mother who agreed to stay home by her computer and place holds and order titles and a husband who agreed to text my book requests, my ALA YMA event was a success.
The ALA YMA Livestream is, I’m not ashamed to confess, one of my favorite events of the year. I try not to get too invested in the results, as it’s the reading and the discussions and the hopes and the surprises that are the most fun. But of course I often have favorites that I’m hoping will win.
I especially love years when committees push the envelope a bit by awarding unexpected books. The 2016 Newbery Committee was brilliant: awarding the gold medal to a picture book?! AND honoring a graphic novel?! The 2015 Committee was also pretty awesome: a SPORTS novel for the winner and a GRAPHIC NOVEL for an honor book.
Of course it’s also nice when a book I can’t stop talking about wins. 2017 was the best Caldecott year ever, as two books I was incredibly passionate about won the gold and an honor (Radiant Child and They All Saw a Cat.)
The Caldecott is probably my favorite award, both because picture books are my favorite book format and because I’ve almost always read the winner and all the honor books. This year, unusually, I didn’t have a favorite pick to win. I loved the surprise of The Rough Patch as an Honor Book (I’d read it just the week before, but it had been off my radar as a potential Caldecott title).
The students in my Children’s Literature course participated in a Mock Caldecott the week before the announcements. Most years, I’m able to include at least a couple of actual winners in our Mock Caldecott list, but this year, three of the five winners hadn’t even come in from the library, and The Rough Patch wasn’t on my Mock Caldecott list, so we only read A Big Mooncake for Little Star as part of our Mock Caldecott experience.
My students’ picks were solid (Blue was their winner, and they chose three honor books), but only one was honored with an actual award this year: Drawn Together won the Asian/Pacific American Award in the Picture Book category.
Even though none of their picks won a Caldecott, they still got to read around 20 terrific books and discover more about their own preferences as readers. And perhaps they will go on to host Mock Caldecotts in their own classrooms.
My favorite thing about the ALA YMA, of course, is all the reading. Reading before the awards and reading after. My mailbox and my library hold shelf are full of new books for several weeks after the awards. Right now, I’m in the middle of two Newbery books, Merci Suarez Changes Gears and The Night Diary. I’ve nearly caught up with the Geisel and Schneider Family Award books. And I’m looking forward to reading the Asian/Pacific American Award winners and honor books next. That’s a new-to-me award (though it’s been around since 2001–which means lots of great books to go back and discover!). I appreciate that the live announcements now include more of the diversity book awards, though I was disappointed that the honor books for the Asian/Pacific American Award weren’t listed during the ceremony.
I don’t think any of my Children’s Lit students has ever taken me up on the invitation to watch the Livestream event. Maybe one day I’ll get organized enough to schedule my course at a time when we can watch the event together.
Thanks to Clare at Teachers for Teachers for the title and inspiration for this slice.