What’s that? You have no idea what Children’s Book Week is? You’re probably not alone. In my time as a children’s librarian I’ve been vaguely aware of it. It exists on the periphery of my vision, but until now hasn’t really stood front and center.
Well all that is changing! Here’s the deal, folks. The good folks at the Children’s Book Council (or CBC) aren’t content to rest upon their laurels. They’re getting excited about this week, and they want us to be excited too. That means doing the thing that I’ve always dreamed about: Bringing together all the folks in all the different areas of children’s literature for a celebration we can all partake of. Think of it: Librarians and booksellers. Editors and agents. Professors of children’s literature and homeschooling parents. Teachers and translators. All of us together, celebrating on a single week
So how do we go about “celebrating” precisely? Yeah, I had no clue. So tapped Robin Adelson the Executive Director of the CBC (more on what exactly THAT organization is in a later post) on the virtual shoulder and she gave me some pretty good answers. Here’s the skinny, which I’ve decided to provide in a back and forth with myself. I’ve been feeling a little dual personalitied recently, so let’s exploit the idea of me talking to me. This is essentially what it feels like to live in my head.
When the heck is Children’s Book Week?
May 2-8, 2011.
Fair enough. And so what precisely should I do until then? Twiddle me fingers?
Nope. Ever heard of the Children’s Book Choice Awards?
Uh, kinda. They’re like the old Quill Awards for kids, right?
If by “kinda” you mean “not at all” then yes. Basically these are the (and I’m going to use caps to make this next point) BIGGEST CHILDREN’S BOOK CHOICE AWARDS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!
Gotcha. And who precisely are the children that are voting on these awards?
Average kids. Your kid if you want ’em to vote.
I’d love them to, though you are aware that my baby is in utero at the moment, right?
A passing fad.
Indeed. In any case, let’s say I had a real kid, or a classroom of kids, or a bookgroup for kids that I run (hey . . .). When and where can they vote?
Right now, actually. Between March 14th and April 29th kids can go to the voting site at www.BookWeekOnline.com. I asked Robin if anyone could vote and she answered in the affirmative with an additional note of, “The program is geared toward kids and teens but we recognize that there are adults who are big fans of children’s books and kids at heart. We are comfortable knowing that a number of adults will submit votes as long as the bulk of votes received are by children. This has never been a problem in the past. The voting site asks voters to list their age.”
Okay, but I saw the books and they’re all really . . . well . . . popular.
Is that okay?
That is okay. Robin told me that the finalists for Book of the Year in the Kindergarten to Second Grade, Third Grade to Fourth Grade, and Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade categories are the books that received the highest number of votes in the IRA-CBC Children’s Choices program in June.
The what now?
It’s a joint project of the International Reading Association (IRA) and the CBC that began in 1975. Said Robin, “Teams of IRA-affiliated educators in five geographic regions receive copies of each submitted title to provide to students to read and rate in classrooms across their region. The votes from the five regions (from approximately 12,000 children) are compiled and the five titles with the highest number of votes in each category (K-2, 3-4, 5-6) become the finalists for the Children’s Choice Book Awards.” So these are books from actually kids of the titles that they honestly love to read.
It’s just weird to see popular books in this way.
What about the authors and illustrators on that list? How were they chosen?
Oh, those were selected by the CBC from a review of bestseller lists with an emphasis on Bookscan. Mind you, only authors and illustrators associated with books published in the previous calendar year are considered.
I feel like I’ve only just heard of this, so all this must be pretty recent, right?
Well, I mean the Children’s Book Choice Awards are pretty new, yeah. That program was created in 2008. But if you’re talking about Children’s Book Week then you are way way off. I mean, take a guess on the first year folks celebrated Children’s Book Week. Go on.
I give up.
I do not. See for yourself. This thing’s been going on for almost a century now. Now it’s all 21st century and stuff. I mean, not only is there a hashtag for the kid choice awards (#ChildrensChoiceBookAwards) but for the week itself (#ChildrensBookWeek). And then of course there’s the gala.
Ooo! Gala! Party party, as Elephant and Piggie might say. Is that fun?
No idea. I’ve never been. But bets are good since this year’s is hosted by that nice Jarrett Krosoczka guy. You can hear him reading off this year’s award nominees here, actually. You can go here if you want to attend. And the stars will be out! Hilary Knight will present K-2 nd Grade Book of the Year and R.L. Stine will present 3rd-4 th Grade Book of the Year and Walter Dean Myers will present 5th-6th Grade Book of the Year and Laurie Halse Anderson will present teen Book of the Year. That’s not all! They even managed to get Clare Vanderpool to present Author of the Year and Erin Stead will present Illustrator of the Year.
Seriously? The 2011 Newbery and Caldecott Award winners? Will the Today Show make up for its Snookie faux pas and cover these winners at the gala?
Uh, yeah, no idea.
It’d be a good idea.
Anyone else glamorous attending?
Well our National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, Katherine Paterson will present this year’s Impact Award to Greg Mortenson (the Three Cups of Tea guy). Your beloved LeVar Burton will make an appearance. And there will be this truly awesome video being produced by The Hewitt School in New York City. Its theme is something like “Read for your life”, which is the presiding National Ambassador’s platform.
When I’m Ambassador my theme will be “More funny books for girls.”
. . . .
. . . . . Anyway, the video will premier at the gala.
Is that all for Children’s Book Week?
Not even. Folks are going to send in their ideas of how to celebrate to the website, after all. You can see what local and regional folks in your area are up to. Plus you can download this funny Jeff Kinney bookmark. Library folks should figure out what they’re doing.
Are you figuring something out for you branch?
No, I’m kind of hungry at the moment. But we’ll work something out.