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Washington Post Looks at the Newbery Discussion

The Washington Post has picked up on Anita Silvey's School Library Journal article on the Newbery award ("Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?") and the larger discussion it spawned. Valerie Strauss writes,

Now the literary world is debating the Newbery's value, asking whether the books that have won recently are so complicated and inaccessible to most children that they are effectively turning off kids to reading.

Read the entire article here.


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Thanks for the link. I'm so behind that I missed Silvey's original article, so thanks especially for linking to that.


How? How are they turning kids off reading? Is reading the Newbery winner compulsory? Honestly, articles like this, with these unfounded assertions, give me the pip.

Jules, you're welcome.

Judith, I think the idea is that kids could get turned off to reading because of what some deem as inaccessible books. But that only happens, of course, if the books are forced on children.

I do think that there's a disconnect between the public perception of the award (best book for kids 8-12) and the award's raison d'etre ("the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in English in the United States during the preceding year").

By bringing the discussion out beyond the borders of the children's literature world, maybe a better general understanding of the Newbery will come about. For instance, until I started blogging a few years back, I did not know that the Newbery and Caldecott came from the American Library Association.


I read the Post article last night. I'm the kind of person who believes that opening a debate on a subject can be a good thing. It makes a person re-examine and reflect on his/her thoughts, beliefs about the subject.

I have often wondered why so few poetry books or humorous books are considered as a "most distinguished" book of the year. I believe it was a couple of decades ago when the question was brought forth (It may have been in The Horn Book) asking why so few nonfiction books were deemed worthy of a Newbery Medal.

Elaine, what was the last poetry winner of the Newbery? Joyful Noise? And, I agree, more humor--and more nonfiction--would be most welcome.


Yes, JOYFUL NOISE received the Newbery Medal in 1989. A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE'S INN got the award in 1982. In 2002, Marilyn Nelson's book CARVER: A LIFE IN POEMS received a Newbery Honor.
I think that's about it. Some might consider the monologues in GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! to be poems--but the book is classified as drama.

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