12:23pm

Fri January 14, 2011
Monkey See

It's Awards Week For Books For Young Readers: What Do You Still Love?

This was the week that the American Library Association announced the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, which are familiar landmarks for young readers. Indeed, those of us who grew up in school libraries have been looking at those shiny medal stickers for many, many years. (Look, for instance, at the cover of last year's Newbery winner, Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me. That is a conspicuous marking, and a guide for kids and parents.)

This year's winners were announced Monday. The Newbery, which the ALA gives to "the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children," went to Moon Over Manifest, a mystery novel about a twelve-year-old girl living with a friend of her father's while he works far away. It was Clare Vanderpool's first novel (zoiks!), and she started work on it beginning in 2001.

The picture book A Sick Day For Amos McGee won the Caldecott, which is given to the artist who creates "the most distinguished American picture book for children." That one has a cover I completely love, and it came from Philip and Erin Stead, a married couple. He wrote it; she did the lovely illustrations with pencil and woodblock printing.

While the Newbery and the Caldecott Medals are probably the most familiar, they're not the only awards the ALA hands out for young readers -- in fact, there's quite a list.

The Michael L. Prinz Award is for excellence in young adult literature -- something we've talked about from time to time in this space -- and this year, it went to Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi (whose previous novel, Windup Girl, won a Hugo Award).

BUT WAIT! There's more. In fact, there are a lot more, and if you have kids, or you buy books for kids, or you're just generally interested in books and media for kids, check out the full list. (I particularly like the idea of the Alex Awards, which are a list of 10 adult books that appeal to teenagers, which this year includes the much-discussed Emma Donoghue novel Room.)

I'm no expert in children's literature, and I wouldn't claim to be, but I went back to the full list of Newbery winners and "honor books," and I have to say, they did a pretty good job of identifying books that meant a lot to me in my dhildhood. Sounder, my family read out loud during a camping trip. Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe is a title I'd never, ever have remembered, but the minute I saw it, I realized I'd read it. I read Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, I read Summer Of The Swans, I read Jacob Have I Loved and Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and I've always assumed that everyone read From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

But I'd love for you to all help flesh out the recommendations -- everybody can always use a great idea for a book for a kid. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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