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31 January 2015 @ 06:44 am
I have no dog in the hunt for this year's Super Bowl, but even if I did, I am hard pressed to make predictions. I will, of course, root for my favorite team. But my Facebook feed is filled with many predictions about the ALA awards which will be announced in just a couple more days. I, too, participated in the predictions and then the armchair quarterbacking after the announcements. And then I served on some of those selection committees. Now I make no predictions, and I do not do any second guessing after the announcements either. Donalyn Miller teases me because my response is, "Trust the process."

It IS a process. There are procedures for the committee to follow. Voting takes place. But more than anything else is this: the committee members read far more extensively than anyone else. They also re-read and read again and read three, four, five, more times. They annotate. They discuss. They give impassioned reasons why a book should or should not be honored. They set aside the personal and operate on a professional level.

But let me make a few predictions about Monday's press conference:

1. The awards will be met with thunderous cheers.
2. I will have read many of the books (I hope).
3. I will not have heard about a few titles (a very few, I hope).
4. The rank of books on Amazon will shift IMMEDIATELY. Watch and see.
5. Some folks will be pleased; others will be disappointed.

Here's the bottom line (and I say this every year): if the book you are cheering for does not get the medal you think it deserves, it does not mean that book is not deserving of your praise. Take it into the classroom and share it with readers. But also take some time to read the winners and try to see what the committee members saw in the books. Do I always love what the committee loved. Nope. Do I have to love it? Nope. But I DO have to be able to see how the book met the criteria; I have to be able to note the literary excellence of the book.

You see, it's back to that one-size-fits-all fallacy I talk about frequently in these posts. One size does not fit all (or even most). One book does not fit all either. Charlotte's Web was an HONOR book. Secret of the Andes was the Newbery winner that year. Which book do I read over and over again year after year?

I am stating it here right now: Thank you, committee members, for all your hard work. I appreciate all you do for the field of literature for children, tweens, and teens! Thank you.
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