I love reading, and I must be a glutton for punishment, because I am serving for a third year on the Georgia Children’s Book Award committee.
The Georgia Children’s Book Award was established in 1968, so it’s nearing its 50th birthday. Each year children from around the state read books off of the list of nominees and vote for their favorites. A picture book and a chapter book win the award every year.
You may wonder how this list of nominees appears. That’s where the committee comes in! Each year, librarians and teachers from around the state volunteer to be on the Book Award committee, then start reading. For the 4th through 8th grade category, each person on the committee commits to nominating 20 titles that have been published within the last three years, and the public is able to nominate titles for the award also.
It’s then the job of the committee to narrow down that extensive list to a number that is readable in a couple of months—generally about 50. After much more reading, discussion, and voting, the list is narrowed down to 20 titles and 4 alternates (in case a title goes out of print or wins an award such as the Newbery that automatically disqualifies it). Those 20 titles are the nominees for the coming year, designed to introduce children across the state to quality literature and help foster the love of reading.
Since this is my third year on the committee, I can tell you that I’ve read a lot of children’s chapter books in the last two-and-a-half years. Some of my favorites made the lists, and some didn’t. For a complete list of this year’s nominees, past nominees and winners, or more information about the awards, click here.
Otherwise, here’s a few highlights for you:
Thought you knew the story of Rumpelstiltskin? Think again. Rump is a 12-year-old boy living with the worst name he can think of in a world where your name is your destiny. When he discovers he can spin straw into gold, he thinks things are finally going his way, but there are still quests and magic and trolls and poison apples to overcome before he will learn his true name.
It’s 1875, and the leader of a ring of counterfeiters is caught creating fake money and thrown in jail. His cohorts decide to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln and refuse to give it back until their leader is released. Will undercover agents be able to prevent the body theft? If this sounds like the stuff of fiction, I’m here to tell you it’s not—this book falls into the nonfiction category.
Raccoon scouts, destructive wild pigs, alligator wrestlers, pies, and a mythical swamp creature who won’t wake up—this book has it all, and it’s hilarious.
Twins separated at birth have a lot to learn about each other, and for March and Jules, trying to finish their late father’s last jewel-thief mission makes the learning curve even steeper.
As if moving wasn’t bad enough, now Prairie’s grandmother is leaving and won’t be able to homeschool Prairie anymore. With a new friend, Ivy, and a flock of chickens, Prairie is going to have to make the best of things.
Would you like a sneak peek at what might be on the list of 2015-2016 nominees?
Too bad, I’m not telling. But I am reading, a lot.