Tomorrow we will crown new Children’s Literature champions. Books will be given a spot in history. Authors schedules will get slammed. My heart will get broken.
Fourteen awards will be handed out Monday morning, but I choosing to focus on one. My favorite: The John Newbery Medal. I hope that the Newbery committee gets it right. My fear is that they will pick a book for the wrong reasons. The Newbery Medal is to be awarded to the book, “For The Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children”. What the heck does that mean? To me, it means that the book needs to be a book that kids will love. I don’t care how well plotted the book is, or how strong the characters are, if kids don’t like it: it is not distinguished.
Working with readers everyday, I have come across books that I feel are extremely well written, and kids love them. How do I know kids love them? I asked them. They told me. We talked about them.
I have 5 books on my Newbery shortlist. I would be THRILLED to see any of the following books Medal or Honor on Monday.
I adore the following authors, and I admit that that may be a factor as to why I picked their books. On second thought, I think that fact that I love their books, is a big reason why I adore them.
The Trouble With May Amelia -Jennifer L. Holm
Breadcrumbs – Anne Ursu
Bigger Than a Bread Box – Laurel Snyder
The Friendship Doll – Kirby Larson
Hound Dog True – Linda Urban
All of these books cannot win. That makes me sad. All 5 of these ladies have written gorgeous books. Books that I feel are tremendous contributions, and books that kids love.
I am now going to talk a little bit more about 3 of the books. I have witnessed first hand the power and beauty of Hound Dog True, The Trouble with May Amelia, and Bigger Than a Bread Box.
Hound Dog True
I am currently reading Hound Dog True aloud to my fourth graders. Last week I read them chapter 5. If your have read HDT, chapter 5 is where we read about the incident between Star and Maddie. The class was blown away. I began to start talking about the chapter with the class, but held back. I gave them a chance to process. It felt like time was standing still. No one was moving. They were frozen solid. I’m not sure that they were even blinking.
That my friends is DISTINGUISHED.
Bigger Than a Bread Box
How this book received no stared reviews is beyond me. It makes me want to use cuss words in this post. Wouldn’t it be fun if Newbery shocked the world and gave Bread Box the love that it deserves?
Bread Box has made its way around my classroom the first half of the year. It is never in the classroom library. I really should purchase more copies.
It was when I sat down with a boy reading Bread Box that I truly saw how special a book it was. As sat and talked with a 10 year-old boy about what he called, “The best book ever written”. I saw how a boy that had been effected by divorce was touched by this book. “Mr. Sharp, I feel like Laurel wrote this book for me.”
My response, “She did.”
Does it get more DISTINGUISHED than that?
The Trouble With May Amelia
I love everything Jennifer Holm. Let’s just get that out of the way. I would read her grocery list.
The Trouble With May Amelia is brilliant.
My May Amelia story includes a former student that is now in seventh grade. She is always stopping by to chat books. She catches all the big fevers: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight.
I wanted to give her something different. Something that would rock her socks. I gave her May Amelia. Three days later she was back. With tears in her eyes hugging the book she said, “Thank you Mr. Sharp. This is the best book I have ever read.”
I wish that I could talk more about The Friendship Doll and Breadcrumbs, but they are just beginning their journey around Room 23. I’m excited to see what the experts think (10 year-old readers).
I’m confident that by the time anyone reads this post, The committee will make me look like an idiot. That’s okay. I think I have a pretty good idea of it means to be a “Distinguished contribution to children’s literature.”