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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

The Child is the Father of the Man

DaNae wrote–

THE DREAMER was lovely in every way except the way in which I can get my students to pick it up and read it. (Oh, stop reaching for your Newbery Criteria handbook already; I know that child appeal is NOT to be considered. As long as one kid is in the audience – criteria is met – check.)

And Betsy–

This, of course, begs the question of what the purpose of the Newbery really is. Is it to honor books that are the best written and devil take the readership, or is it to get kids reading the best of the best? I was no fan of the “Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?” argument, but I’m admittedly going to have a much easier time hand-selling something like “Keeper” or “A Tale Dark and Grimm” than “A Conspiracy of Thieves” to my ten-year-olds, and even my twelve-year-olds should such books win.

Are you on Team Best-Written-and-Devil-Take-the-Readership?  Or are you on Team Get-Kids-Reading-the-Best-of-the-Best?  What I would like to do in this post is to explore how we each picked our respective teams.  I’ll go first.

I read a grand total of five Newbery books as a child.  Yep, five.  A WRINKLE IN TIME, THE BLACK CAULDRON, THE HIGH KING, THE DARK IS RISING, and THE GREY KING.  I read these books because I wanted to read them, neither because of the Newbery nor because of adult intervention.  Thus, the Newbery was completely and utterly meaningless to me as a child.  Now I’m sure that someone who actively sought books out because of the Newbery would have a different view.  I suppose that Laura Rodgers, she who has read all of the Newbery Medal winners, will have a much different take, both now and when she grows up.  How could it be otherwise?

But when I grew up and became a teacher, I found that most children were like me: they read what they wanted to read, regardless of whether it had won awards or not.  Some students had an awareness of the Newbery, and a few were pleased that a good book, perhaps a favorite book, had won, but very few sought books out because of the Newbery.  When I became a school librarian, I didn’t have an intimate knowledge of the reading habits of 30 plus students, but I did have the broader view of an entire school.  Still, nothing from my experience changed my views on the motivational power of the Newbery.

Now I know that some of you might like to make the argument that if the Newbery committee would consistently pick “good” books then it would over time accrue the power to motivate students and point them to the best of the best.

Here’s the problem with that argument: Me.  Do you remember which Newbery books I read?  Fantasy books–all of them.  Thus, you can stock your Newbery canon with all sorts of good child-friendly titles, but if they aren’t science fiction or fantasy (and preferably high fantasy) then you might as well go ahead and put those inaccessible Newbery titles on the list because it wouldn’t have made one whit of a difference to me.  Moreover, I would have scoffed at any list that purported to be the best of the best, but did not not include J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Frank Baum, or John Christopher.

So when you tell me the Newbery canon must be child-friendly for the sake of children . . . Oh, stop it!  Who are we kidding?  The Newbery canon needs to be child-friendly so that adults–parents, teachers, librarians–do not have to do the hard work of putting the right book in the right hands at the right time.  It would be nice if one size fit all, if the Newbery could be a universally recognized standard of goodness, but is that realistic?

Now it’s your turn.  Tell me about your childhood experiences with the Newbery and how those have affected your attitudes.  Then tell me about your professional or parental experiences and how those have colored your views.

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Jonathan Hunt About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the County Schools Librarian at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at hunt_yellow@yahoo.com

Comments

  1. Laurel says:

    This is interesting.

    I remember, as a kid, looking for that shiny sticker (though I don’t think I knew a medal from an honor). I remember thinking it meant I’d like the book in my hand.

    I remember liking all of them, pretty much. Some more than other, naturally. And standouts included the Cooper books the ZKSnyder books, L’Engle, Konigsberg, Voight, Speare, Odell. So a mix of fantasy, historical, contemporary.

    I have no professional or parental experience with any of it yet, so I’ll be curious to see what people say.

    The only negative memory I have is of trying, again, and again, to read Hero and the Crown, and never being able to get into it. I wonder why…

  2. Nina Lindsay says:

    Monica says in her comment on “13 v 14″: “On the other hand, I have to admit I would like to see more books at the middle range, books that more of my 4th graders would read. The reality is that criteria not withstanding, kids know about Newbery and when a winner is appealing to a large group of kids the award is more meaningful to them.”

    But my impression is that most kids are like Jonathan: the shiny seal is nice if you already like the book. But beyond that? I think the seals are for the grownups.

    If the award compels more excellent writing to be published for “the middle range” (all those titles in search of the award)…then isn’t the award successful, even beyond the titles that it recognizes? I think we certainly see that happening today.

  3. Liz B says:

    I read (for sure, no guessing, figure could be more for books I forgot about) 17 winners (5 thanks to a gift, a boxed set of winers) and 21 honor books. (I graduated 8th grade in 1980, so only looked at the pre1980 time period). They were a mix — historical fiction, fantasy, contemporary.

    Did I seek out the sticker? No.

    Did I get the benefit of librarians who had these books on the shelves for me to find and enjoy? yes.

    I agree with Jonathan that most children read what they want — a handful will be like Laura, but she’s the exception. But the adults who knew about the sticker, bought them, kept them, etc., — it did benefit me, even though I didn’t know it.

  4. Scope Notes says:

    As a kid, the Newbery award didn’t exist to me. No, I shouldn’t say that – I did notice it on books, but, like Jonathan, it never factored into my reading selections – I was too busy trying to read every book Roald Dahl ever wrote. It did factor into my non-selected reading, as lit circle books and classroom read-alouds in school – and I remember liking most of those.

    Now as an elementary school librarian, I see the award as the world’s most selective children’s lit recommendation device. And this isn’t a knock. Like Jonathan said, librarians, teachers, and parents welcome (and need) this recommendation for getting great books in the hands of kids, as many of my teachers did.

    As for the “Devil-Take-the-Readership” vs. “Get-Kids-Reading-the-Best” debate, I feel like it has to be both. To me, no matter how hard the committee tries to guide it, the Newbery canon has (and will continue to be) like a great album – a few challenging numbers to think about, a couple crowd pleasers to dance to, each one excellent.

  5. I think kids do enjoy learning that a book they like got a biggie award.

  6. After looking through the complete list of Medal and Honor Books, I noticed that the ones that I remember quite clearly are the type of books that I normally loved to read as a child: “realistic” fiction and historical fiction. I did not seek them out. They were probably just available in my teachers’ classroom libraries.

    We did not have “choose a Newbery” assignments, but we did read Newberys as a class. Out of those “entire class” assignments, the one that I clearly remember loving was The Great Gilly Hopkins. I recently reread that in my ongoing Newbery project (which will take me years to finish-I’m trying to read Honor books as well-the very first Honor books will require interlibrary loans), and it definitely took me back to fourth grade. I still love it, and it’s still my favorite book by Katherine Paterson (yes, even more than Bridge to Terabithia).

    These are the ones that I jotted down while reading through the list:

    Caddie Woodlawn

    Charlotte’s Web

    Miracles on Maple Hill

    Up a Road Slowly

    Incident at Hawk’s Hill

    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

    Homesick: My Own Story

    Dear Mr. Henshaw

    The Great Gilly Hopkins

    Ramona and Her Father

    Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Honor winning books

    I believe most of these are Honor books (except for Dear Mr. Henshaw and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry). Incidentally, my recent Newbery Medal hopefuls have actually been named Honor books (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, The Wednesday Wars, and Penny From Heaven).

  7. Jess says:

    I remember first really being aware of the Newbery in 7th grade, when my teacher read us The Giver and told us it won the Newbery – either it had just won it, or it won as she was reading it, I don’t remember. Before that, I think I was aware of the shiny stickers, but more because they were on books that I liked, and less that I was drawn to certain books because of the award. I loved historical fiction and fantasy, so I read those titles. As an adult, I’ve gone back to some of the realistic fiction that I skipped because it was boring to me then.

    An anecdote from my library book group (for ages 10 & up) – I suggested a book for the following month, and one (well-read, bright) 7th grader saw the sticker and asked if it was depressing since it had won an award – that was her perception of Newbery winners (I got the impression that her class had been required to read some).

  8. I first read my very most favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time, because at some point in school in some lesson on award winners I had heard it mentioned– although it probably stood OUT in the lesson because it was referred to as “scary.” Anyway, our school library’s copy was old and horrendous and I never would have pulled it off the shelf if it hadn’t been for that “This one is supposed to be good” in the back of my head. But, like I said, it was the “scary” that made the title stand out from all the other titles in our Newbery Booktalk Lesson.

    So for me, it was more like, if I saw a sticker on the book, I knew it was Recommended, but I’d still only read it if I was interested in it anyway. So if the choice was between two, say, ghost stories, and one was an award winner and the other wasn’t, I would probably go with the award winner. But if the choice was between a cheesy paperback ghost story that’d never win anything and an award-winning serious realistic novel (or one with, god forbid, ROMANCE), I would so still go with the ghost story!

    So I think the awards are for the grownups, the ones who make the books available to kids, so they know which ones to buy, which ones to recommend. And that’s great! I’m eternally grateful that Newbery Booktalk filmstrip told me not to pass up that revolting-looking book on the shelf. But I didn’t pick it up so much because it was a medal winner as much as I was told about it in the first place because it was a medal winner.

    We have all our Newberys on a separate bookcase in our library. I think this is confusing more often than not. It comes in handy for those times when people have to read an award winner for an assignment, but usually people are just looking for a particular title and can’t find it in the regular fiction section! We’ve been talking about dividing the current juvenile and YA sections further into elementary (our elementary schools go to 4th grade), intermediate/tween, and teen sections, and I was wondering where the Newbery section should go, because the majority of the books seem to belong in Tween, but it’s usually the younger kids– or their parents– who come looking specifically for Newberys. I was following the other day’s 13 vs 14 conversation carefully for ideas. But now that I think about it even more, I think I’ll just push to get rid of the separate Newbery section, period. The books all have stickers not only on their fronts but also on their spine labels, and we can always have bookmarks available with all the titles listed if people want them. BUT NOW all those good books will be mixed in with the regular books, so kids browsing will actually FIND them! Yes, I think this IS what I want to do.

  9. Mr. H says:

    Looking at the Scholastic Newbery Medal poster hung next to my desk at school, I only see a handful of books I read as a child.

    THE GIVER, MANIAC MAGEE, NUMBER THE STARS, THE WHIPPING BOY, DEAR MR. HENSHAW, and A WRINKLE IN TIME.

    A few of those were read as read alouds in school, which I followed up with a reading of my own, and a few were due to a “Read a Newbery” type of reading assignment. A WRINKLE IN TIME was what I chose.

  10. Eric says:

    Nina said “If the award compels more excellent writing to be published for “the middle range” (all those titles in search of the award)…then isn’t the award successful, even beyond the titles that it recognizes? I think we certainly see that happening today.”

    The award can only compel more excellent writing to be published for the middle range if middle range books are seen to have a legitimate chance of winning the award. If committees only selected award winners at the upper end of the range (13 and 14) then does the award really compel more excellent writing for children ages 8-10? How would selecting A Conspiracy of Kings as the Newbery Medal winner compel publishers to publish excellent books targeted at 3rd and 4th graders. It’s been a long time since Frog and Toad Together, Doctor De Soto or the Ramona books won Newbery Honors. While many of the recent Newbery winners and honors make excellent read alouds for 3rd or 4th graders, looking at the list, there are probably only a couple of titles that more than a small handful of the very high 5th grade students at my school could read independently.(At my school we are 100% low income/ 95% english language learners) Making the Newbery really a middle school aged award for almost all of the students at my school and many others.

    I’m not saying that the Newbery Medal should do anything other than award the most distinguished book written for children in a given year. But I think that dropping the age would mean the award is being given to a book that might be read by children. I think anecdotal evidence of one smart 5th grader reading A Conspiracy of Kings or Hero and the Crown does a disservice to the many 5th graders who struggle through Ramona and Her Father. The argument that we shouldn’t ignore the highest reaching readers should work both ways.

    Today I looked back at Mo Willem’s text for City Dog, Country Frog. Ignoring the art work entirely I think a case could be made for this book being quite distinguished. (Jonathan made a similar case for Hook last year) The title certainly serves children within the ALSC’s purview yet it does not stand a chance because committee members will have 100s of novels for 13 and 14 year olds to consider. Maybe lowering the age to 12 would COMPEL publishers to publish more excellent writing books for ages 4-8.

    Tangential to this: I get the feeling reading comments here and on other blogs that many of bloggers/commenters work at schools with very high achieving students. Does the ALA go to any effort in placing librarians from under privileged / low income schools onto their award committees? This perspective seems to be lacking in the kid-lit blogosphere but i’m not sure if it’s also lacking on the selection committees. (i may be wrong about this but it is the impression I get)

  11. Thanks for writing about me! It used to be more often that kids would read lots of Newberys (my mom’s elementary school had a whole club of kids who had read them all). Now I think that kids don’t read them all but have access to all of them because of publicity and every library wants to have the Newberys because the parents want their kids to read them. This makes kids more likely to pull a Newbery off of the shelf or chose it because their friend had pulled it off of the shelf and loved it. Also, lots of adults want to buy a kid in their life a good book to read and the Newbery helps them chose which books are good without reading them. All of my local bookstores have a rack with the Newberys still in print. They also have all of the Caldecotts and other awards because they have the publicity that gets kids and adults to pick them up and purchase them. This is my opinion because I have read them all, but my classmates have still only read about 5 (we have had 5 Newbery assignments). Anyways, thanks for featuring me!

  12. Sondy says:

    Wasn’t the Newbery established to encourage the publication of good books for children?

    I was hardly at all aware of the Newbery growing up. Most of the Newbery winners I read when I was actually a child, I didn’t really like: CADDIE WOODLAWN (which I didn’t finish as a child), THE ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, and THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E FRANKWEILER.

    But I greatly prefer fantasy — I didn’t discover the favorites Jonathan mentions until I was in college or a young adult (and then loved them). My all-time favorite Newbery winner is THE HERO AND THE CROWN, which I also didn’t read until I was an adult.

    Fortunately, our local teachers ask for “award winners,” so I can point kids to other winners if I can’t find a Newbery winner that sparks their interest.

    Speaking of that, I love the way the Cybil Awards have a separate award for Fantasy/Science Fiction. It seems like people either love or hate that category — and this way they can be judged by a committee of people that at least love their genre. (And Cybil nominations are open through October 15.)

  13. samuel says:

    So…do we think DREAMER is a contender?

  14. DaNae says:

    Oh, this is very sad. The only medal winners I seem to have read as a child were Up a Road Slowly and Strawberry Girl. Neither of which I remember very well, or chose for myself. There was also a smattering of Wilder Honors, Old Yeller and of course Charlotte’s Web. My mother chose most of the books on my shelf and many of them were ones she had read as a child. Oddly I didn’t read any Science Fiction or Fantasy until after reaching the age of consent. The books Jonathan mentioned, Wrinkle in Time and the Prydains were my first. I even named my second son Taran.

    In spite of my snarky comment at the top, I’m actually not passionate that the Newbery be particularly kid friendly. I was merely stating a fact, as I saw it, about DREAMER. As someone who runs a Mock Newbery with her students I do tend to get more excited about the readability of books like COUNTDOWN or ONE CRAZY SUMMER. I see the value in promoting quality literature.

    I love the challenge of getting the right book to the right reader, and rarely will the awards on the cover be considered.

    I appreciated Monica’s comments about books for younger readers. The challenge of working with a simpler vocabulary and straight forward plotting, which will allows younger readers to connect, can be more limiting and ultimately require more skill than having every literary illusion in the kit available. Yet these books tend to get overlooked. Let’s have that discussion next week.

  15. Miriam says:

    I was aware of the Newbery growing up, but I was growing up in an independent children’s bookstore. And I read quite a few of them, but I remember them less from “look what one this year” and more from those summertime displays of extra-discounted children’s classics, many of them with shiny, noticeable stickers.

    But while I read (as a kid) 12 of the winners and honors awarded from the time I was born until I was ten (and quite a few more from before I was born, like the Prydain books (over and over) and A Wrinkle in Time), I read only one of the winners/honors from when I was 11-14 (Ella Enchanted.) At that age, I felt “too old” for the Newbery.

  16. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Eric, Eric, Eric. *sigh* Did we learn nothing from Heavy Medal last year? First, we are going to discuss the picture books, the easy readers, and the transitional chapter books here. You’ll remember that we are big advocates for recognizing these genres of writing. We’ve only been posting for a month, we have lots of items on the agenda, and we can’t possibly give every book or genre its just due within the first month. I’m planning to write about picture book texts within the next week or two. Here’s my list if you all want to acquaint yourselves with the books before the discussion: SNOOK ALONE, CLEVER JACK TAKES THE CAKE, HERE COMES THE GARBAGE BARGE, and CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG. Second, I’m not sure that anyone has made the argument that A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS is a distinguished book for a 5th grader; it’s more likely a distinguished book for an 8th or 9th grader, but likelier still a distinguished book for a fantasy reader, and not your garden variety Harry Potter reader, but your more sophisticated fantasy reader. In this case, as with much of the best literature, the book chooses its audience, not the other way around.

    ALSC award committees strive to include as much diversity as possible: geographic diversity, ethnic diversity, gender diversity, different job types (public librarian, school librarian, university professor, and the occasional teacher or bookseller). Last year, I taught a special day class for deaf and hard of hearing students; while my school was in the most affluent part of Modesto (and most of my book club readers came from the gifted and talented classes), my actual students came from the lower socio-economic areas and were hampered not only by second language issues at home, but struggling to learn proper English with hearing impairments. This year, I have been reassigned to teach 7th grade World History at a junior high school in south Modesto; it serves probably the lowest socio-economic region in the district with an extremely high concentration of Latinos. And yet we do have students–English learners–in our book club here that rival their counterparts on the other side of the freeway.

  17. Eric says:

    Jonathan, I know you’re going to discuss these lower age-level books here on Heavy Metal. I was really asking or i guess, wondering how much these books are discussed by the actually committees (not that we can actually know). My argument (not much of one i do admit) is that lowering the age to 12 or 13 might simply open up the possibility that the Newbery could honor highly distinguished books for younger kids. I have faith in you and Nina. I know all the great books up for discussion will get noted here in due course.

    I’m also happy to hear you’ve gotten the chance to work with students in high poverty situations I know you’ll find it incredibly rewarding.

  18. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Eric, I think it probably depends on the committee, but in any case the committee always looks at a wide variety of books. Sometimes, I wish ALSC would publish all of the books that got official nominations throughout the fall–or all of the books on the final ballot. The Medal and Honors tend to skew toward middle grade fiction (i.e. 4th-8th grade), but I think if we saw these kinds of lists we would be more pleased with the diversity of literature represented. Peter Sieruta told me that back in the day, they *did* publish these lists, but somewhere along the way it changed.

  19. Nina Lindsay says:

    Eric, I’ll concur and assure you that the committee discusses EVERYTHING. (And Willems was already going to be my next post unless Jonathan beats me to it.) And I’d challenge you to look through the COURSE of the award, winners and honors, and see if you don’t really see a range. I’m talking decades. A few-years snapshot is not a fair range.

    Let me try to restate what I was saying before. Middle-range novels ARE recognized by the committee, over time, and taking the honors into consideration. So don’t you think writers of this range (and of any eligible range!) strives for the Newbery? Don’t you think editors do? And don’t you think they’re producing wonderful books as a result, whether or not those books win the award?

  20. Wendy says:

    I think a distinguished book IS distinguished–IMO, it isn’t going to be “distinguished for such-and-such group”. And that’s my belief about what the Newbery should be: something that tells everyone who sees the sticker, “Hey, kids! This is what good literature looks like!”.

    I was surprised, when I counted up a couple of years ago, to find that I’d only read twelve of the Newbery winners as a kid (plus seven more as an adult before I read them all on purpose). I thought I would have read more of them by default. But I remember thinking that too many of them were about boys and/or animals, neither of which were things I wanted to read about (and I was not far wrong on that, though of course “too many” is debatable). Like other commenters, the Newbery books I read were books I would have read anyway, like The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I preferred books from the 40s-60s to books written during my own 80s childhood, in general; I paid attention to what won the Newbery every year, but I didn’t pick up the books. (I don’t think this was a loss. Looking at the list of 80s winners, there’s not much I would have enjoyed as a kid.)

  21. I was a huge reader and I had no knowledge of the Newbery Medal at all. When I was in elementary school, the library was staffed by my mom, a volunteer with no library experience. I read all Nancy Drew books. When I was a little older, I read Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien, TH White and books of poetry. I can’t think of anyone who steered me towards a good book, I found them on my own. The public library was a place to go when you needed an encyclopedia, if you were lucky enough not to be ushered out in a volley of shushing. As a parent, I keep my mouth shut. Parental recommendation is normally the kiss of death. As a public librarian, I’ll point out a Newbery winner if it’s the right book for the reader. When I have the opportunity, I explain the significance of the shiny stickers (all of them) to kids and their grownups. Personally and anecdotally, I find that kids are not that impressed.

  22. Sandy D. says:

    I was like Jonathan – I only read a handful of Newbery winners as a child, and I think that they were books I would have read regardless. A couple of the winners I really didn’t like, so the medal didn’t mean much to me. It was kind of like the Puffin symbol on the books my grandmother gave me – just some unknown adult thing.

    My son, who is now 13, is a contrary soul and has decided that the Newbery recommendation means the book is boring and not for him. He admits to having enjoyed a few Newbery winners (most recently, “The Graveyard Book”, but still believes it is more of a reason to NOT check out a book than to select it. Ditto for books I recommend, too, which are less likely to be “cool”.

    He relies more on his own taste, especially after reading cover blurbs, and his friends’ recommendations. Maybe this is just an annoying teen thing?

    Anyway, this puts me squarely in the “Team Best Written” category.

  23. Susan says:

    One other thing to think of when talking about a Newbery winner/honor book is that, if like me you got a lot of your books from the library as a child, some of the winning books didn’t HAVE stickers at all, because they were first editions!!

    I went for years trying to track down a best beloved book, one that I could have quoted passages from, could have told you which shelf it resided on in the library, but couldn’t remember the title or author. I completely discounted the Newbery books as possibilities, because I was sure the book had no sticker. I was both right and wrong….I eventually came across it as I was reading my way through the Newbery winners….The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. She was already a popular author, and Newbery Honor recipient, by the time that book came out, so of course the library bought it as soon as it was released.

  24. Okay, I’ve come up with my personal stats this time:
    I’ve read 39 medalists, 56 honors (95 total)
    Of those, I read 19 medalists and 27 honors (46 total) when I was, as best as I can remember, 14 or younger. That’s over half, so not bad looking at other people’s scores.

    But breaking down those 46 further (no longer breaking down by medals vs honors):
    I loved 20 of them– liked, disliked, or was indifferent to the other 26 (don’t remember well enough which now!)
    I read 16 as a middle schooler, 30 in elementary school. Of those 30, I loved 12.
    5 were whole-class-readings at school, 16 were books my parents read aloud to me (all those ones were of the 30 elementary-aged readings). Of THOSE 21 (books other people picked for me), I loved 8. Most of those were the Little House books!

    Something curious I noticed– nearly all the pre-1960s books I read, I read in elementary school (exception being Blue Willow which I read in library school). Wonder why?

    But I think I can infer a few things:
    –My parents definitely had a hand in making me aware of Newbery books
    –The books I chose myself I tended to like more!
    –I DID appreciate most of the Newbery winners more in middle school than in elementary… but adults were more likely to point them out in elementary.

    Hmm….

  25. Leslie says:

    I’ve read 70 of the Medal winners and 196 of the Honor Books. Most of those I’ve read since I’ve been an adult (and some, like Dark Star of Itza and Boy of the South Seas took me forever to find copies to buy). I don’t remember that when I was a child an issue was made of the award; I noticed the stickers on some of the books that I chose to read (like Caddie Woodlawn, A Wrinkle in Time, Downright Dencey, Blue Willow, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH), but I don’t think that is why I chose to read them. (And some that I read, like the Little House books that were also Honor Books, nobody bothered to put stickers on because the books were more famous than the award, presumably).

    I do believe that the Medal winners especially, and the Honor Books to a lesser extent, have a greater chance of being read by children than non-winners do simply because they are reprinted so often. The Medal winners especially don’t seem to go out of print at all; and therefore it is more likely that they will be in libraries, the more so because many librarians will buy them because they have won the award. This is especially true since whatever tax law it was they changed in the 1970′s which made publishers far less likely to keep books in print; blink and you miss them, and they aren’t in the library.

    You wrote: “But when I grew up and became a teacher, I found that most children were like me: they read what they wanted to read, regardless of whether it had won awards or not.” You were lucky, and so was I. Unfortunately, the children in my school are much more constrained, not by awards but by something else: their teachers tell them to choose books “on their level,” by which they mean Lexile(R) level; that they have to read a certain number of books, which means they choose the skinniest ones they can find; and that they must choose books that have Reading Counts tests. And (direct quote): “Why are you checking out that book? You’ve already taken a test on it.”

  26. Mr. H says:

    Leslie: “I do believe that the Medal winners especially, and the Honor Books to a lesser extent, have a greater chance of being read by children than non-winners do simply because they are reprinted so often.”

    Great point! I’m thinking of the Scholastic book orders I pass out in my class that are filled with fluff . . . buried in that fluff every issue are the same reoccurring books: SHILOH, MANIAC MAGEE, THE WESTING GAME, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES, HOLES, WALK TWO MOONS, BUD NOT BUDDY, and many more. These books are purchased quite often by parents. And I’m betting not for themselves . . .

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