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Finding Good Children's Books

Over at What Do We Do All Day?, you'll find an excellent post about ways to locate good books for children. The blog kindly includes a nod to Chicken Spaghetti's love of book lists. So, yeah! Let's break out a couple of new kid-book lists that popped up recently.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, for kids 12-18 (via Bartography)

Charlotte Zolotow Award books, honoring writing for picture books

Edgar Award finalists, mysteries (books for grown-ups, too)

NAACP Image Award nominees for literature, featuring books in a number of categories, including ones for children and teens

APALA Asian/Pacific American Awards

Amelia Bloomer Project, feminist literature

Rainbow List, GLTBQ books

American Indian Youth Literature Awards, "created to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians, Alaska Natives, Canadian First Nations and Native Hawaiians"

Caldecott, Newbery Awards on the Horizon, Orbis Pictus Announced

The two biggest U.S. children's literature awards—the Newbery and Caldecott Medals—will be announced on Monday, January 23rd, along with a slew of other prizes.

I may not be online Monday morning to immediately update Chicken Spaghetti's 2011 Best Children's Books: A List of Lists and Awards. However, the American Library Association (ALA) promises live Newbery/Caldecott/etc. coverage; for details click here.

Again, what, what, what would be wrong with a big Newbery and Caldecott banner on the American Library Association's website? If these awards are some of the biggest things an organization sponsors, isn't it okay to say so? The general public does not know from "ALA Youth Media Awards." And Twitter hashtag #ALAyma seems like it's, well, in code.

Moving on now. My pick for the Caldecott, which honors illustration, is Allen Say's Drawing from Memory. For the Newbery (writing), Candace Fleming's Amelia Lost.

This morning saw the news of the Orbis Pictus Award for outstanding nonfiction for children. Chosen by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the winner was the picture book Balloons Over Broadway; a number of other books were honored, too, including Amelia Lost.

Updated to add: In the realm of literature for grown-ups, the National Book Critics Circle announced finalists for book awards in a number of categories. The NBCC also cited Kathryn Schulz for excellence in reviewing. I don't know her work at all, so I have some catching up to do!


"With his first George and Martha book, James [Marshall] was already entirely himself. He lacked only one component in his constellation of gifts: he was uncommercial to a fault. No shticking, no nudging knowingly, no winking or pandering to the grownups at the expense of the kids."

—Maurice Sendak, May 1997

Reprinted in the anthology George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends, written and illustrated by James Marshall (Houghton Mifflin, 2008).

Amen, Mr. Sendak.

The second graders I read to liked several of the George and Martha picture books very much. Each one is broken into several stories that stand on their own, and the children loved the details of the hippo best friends, like Martha's rather large skirt and George's gold tooth. And how funny it is when George pours his pea soup into his loafers rather than offend Martha! Everyone, boys and girls, had a lot to say about these books.

I was a little surprised that a couple of the students struggled with parts where a reader or listener has to use inference to make the jump to the next scene, but I hope we spent enough time talking about the stories so that everyone understood. I'm glad the children speak up when they don't get it. The more we talk about things together, the better!