I’m thinking, in particular, about how to find the good new ones, from among the many thousands of children’s books that appear each year. This is a question I’m often asked, but it’s a question of particular interest to my Literature for Children classes right now, since their third paper requires them to find a “new” book (published in the last ten years) that’s different than the childhood favorite they’ve already written about. So, here are some tips for them — and for all of you.
Awards. Some good books win awards.
- Jane Addams Book Award (Jane Addams Peace Association; official site)
- Hans Christian Andersen Award (official IBBY site)
- Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Awards (official CBCA site)
- Choices Booklists: Children’s Choices, Teachers’ Choices, and Young Adults’ Choices (sponsored by the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council)
- International Reading Association Children’s Book Awards (click on “Category” to sort by category; look for the ones marked “Children’s Literature Awards”)
- Astrid Lindgren Award (sponsored by the Swedish Arts Council)
- Phoenix Award (official Children’s Literature Association site). These books will all be at least 20 years old. The award is given to a book that did not win a major award when first published.
- Robert F. Sibert Award (official ALA site)
- New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards (official site)
- Alex Award (official YALSA site)
- American Indian Youth Services Literature Award (official site)
- Pura Belpré Award (official ALA site)
- Irma S. and James. H. Black Award (official site, at Bank Street College)
- Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards (official site)
- Caldecott Medal (official ALA site)
- Christopher Award (official site)
- Coretta Scott King Award (official ALA site)
- Geisel Award (official ALA site)
- Golden Kite Award (official SCBWI site — click on the link at left)
- Newbery Medal (official ALA site)
- New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001; 1952-2002
- Michael L. Printz Award (official ALA site)
- School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kids Books (official SLJ site)
- Society of Illustrators’ Awards (official site)
- William Allen White Children’s Book Award (official site, at Emporia State University)
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (official ALSC site)
- Charlotte Zolotow Award (official site)
- Carnegie and Greenaway Medals (official site)
- Costa Book Awards, formerly the Whitbread (official site)
- Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (official site)
- Nestlé Children’s Book Prize, formerly the Smarties Prize (official BookTrust site)
- Red House Children’s Book Award (official site)
- BookTrust’s Prizes and Awards page.
But plenty of good books do not win awards. So, you need to look elsewhere, too — and not only at the runners-up for these awards.
Mock Caldecott. All around the U.S. each fall, local libraries hold Mock Caldecott Awards, in which they bring in that year’s crop of U.S. picture books, invite anyone who’s interested to peruse them and vote on their favorites. Here are the results for the one we did at the Manhattan (Kansas) public library this past fall (2010).
Your local public library. See what’s new in the Children’s Section, Young Adult section, Graphic Novels section. Often, the new works are on display. If you have more specific questions, you might consult the children’s librarian or librarians. Children’s librarians keep abreast of what’s new and nifty.
Children’s Literature blogs. It will not surprise you to learn that many of these are run by librarians.
- Fuse #8, by Elizabeth Bird (Senior Librarian, New York Public Library). @FuseEight on Twitter
- 100 Scope Notes, by Travis Jonker (elementary school librarian, Michigan). @100ScopeNotes on Twitter.
- Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, by Julie Walker Danielson. @SevenImp on Twitter
- Slightly Addicted to Fiction, by Judi J. @ReadingJay on Twitter.
- Book-a-Day Almanac, by Anita Silvey. This one isn’t devoted to new books, but it’s a first-class education in children’s literature. @AnitaSilvey on Twitter.
- Curious Pages: Recommended Inappropriate Books for Children, by Lane Smith and Bob Shea. This one’s dormant, and also isn’t devoted to new books. But if you like children’s books that are a little unusual, then this site’s for you.
And, yes, there are many other excellent blogs. Do feel free to recommend your favorites below.
Bookstores. Preferably, independent children’s bookstores. But, really, any bookstore. Just go to the children’s section and look at the books. You don’t have to buy anything. Make notes on the books you like, and seek them at your local library, or perhaps return and buy them at a later date.
CHILD_LIT listserv, maintained by Michael Joseph (Rare Books Librarian, Rutgers). Members of the listserv include librarians, teachers (from grade school to university), graduate students (and a few undergraduates), authors, illustrators, and anyone with an interest in children’s literature.
Stay curious. Wherever you go, keep your eyes and ears open for good books. Read publications devoted to children’s literature, like The Horn Book, and Kirkus Reviews of children’s books. Talk with children’s book fans of all ages.
If you have other tips to add, please post in the comments below. Thank you!