DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


On Monday, the American Library Association gave the John Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book.

I was pleasantly surprised by this year’s choice because the Newbery doesn’t often go to fantasies and because of the frequent tendency for Newbery books to be ‘good’ books, as in good-for-you. Even Mr. Gaiman seemed surprised, saying that “there are books that are best sellers and books that are winners.” Popularity is not a consideration for the Newbery award (and rightly so), but there’s been a lot of debate in the library world recently about the obscurity of the most recent winners.

As a child I resisted reading ‘good’ books, preferring escapism to character-building.  As an adult, I know that I missed out on some excellent stories the child-me would have loved. As a librarian,  I’m trying to get those excellent stories to children who are just as reluctant as I was to read a ‘good’ book.  So I’m happy that this year’s Newbery choice means the good and the popular are on the same page.

I always love looking at the Caldecott books and this year the award for the most distinguished picture book for children goes to The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson.

The ALA makes lots of other awards as well, including the Odyssey Award for audiobooks.  One of this year’s Odyssey Honor nominees is Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, written and narrated by local author and DCPL favorite Carmen Agra Deedy. Congratulations to Ms. Deedy, Mr. Gaiman, Ms. Krommes and all the other winners and nominees!


Nov 20 2008

Dear Diary

by Ginny C

J’nai’s post on Tuesday about journaling got me thinking about books for children and teens that are written in a diary format.  Its popularity as a format has grown recently due to several factors – they’re easy to read, they bring an immediacy to the characters and setting, etc.  Probably most important is that kids and young adults like them.  One of the most popular books to come out recently is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffly’s Journal and its sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, both by Jeff Kinney.  Both books have waiting lists and are a big hit with middle school age kids, especially boys who enjoy the humor and the cartoons that appear throughout the books.  Listing all the books the library owns would make for a very long list, so I’ll just list a few of my favorites.

Diary of a Worm by Dorren Cronin:  A young worm discovers, day by day, that there are some very good and some not so good things about being a worm in this great big world.

Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee: In a series of journal entries, eleven-year-old child prodigy Millicent Min records her struggles to learn to play volleyball, tutor her enemy, deal with her grandmother’s departure, and make friends over the course of a tumultuous summer.

Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman:  The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off.

And here are a couple for teens:

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flynn: Sent to counseling for hitting his girlfriend, Caitlin, and ordered to keep a journal, sixteen-year-old Nick recounts his relationship with Caitlin, examines his controlling behavior and anger, and describes living with his abusive father.

Planet Janet by Dyan Sheldon: Sixteen-year-old Janet Bandry keeps a diary as she deals with an annoying family, school, a quirky best friend, and trying to find herself through vegetarianism, literature, romance, and her “Dark Phase.”

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Oct 30 2008

NaNoWriMo: Ready? Set? Write!

by Jimmy L

November is National Novel Writing Month (often abbreviated as NaNoWriMo). If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, but didn’t have the courage to do it, here is your chance! Here’s the basics: throughout November, people sign up on the NaNoWriMo webpage to accept this challenge. Then from Nov 1 through Nov 30, their goal is to write a 175 page (50,000 word) novel. This is a national effort, so nobody’s alone.  The NaNoWriMo website acts as a support network, connecting writers through forums, resources, and peptalks (given by acclaimed writers like Philip Pullman!).

One of the main ideas behind the project is this: don’t worry about quality, focus on quantity (the revision and tune-up process comes later, maybe in December?). Their webpage states “The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.”

This year they’ve added a Young Writers Program component to their usual challenge: “our Young Writers Program allows participants who are 17 years old and younger to set reasonable, yet challenging, word-count goals.”

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Aug 13 2008

Diversity in Children’s Books

by Ginny C

If you have lamented the lack of diversity in childrens and teen literature recently, you’re not alone.  There aren’t a lot of books available for this age group featuring African-American, Asian or Latino characters in genres other than historical fiction, which is well represented.  But where are the books set in the present about realistic issues, that just happen to have a minority as the main character?  And while we’re at it, where are the minorities in other genres, such as fantasy and science-fiction?  And mysteries and romance novels?

I came across an interesting statistic last week while researching another topic.  The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a research library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education, published a report on the trends in children’s literature.  Of the almost 3000 books they reviewed that were published in 2007, only 150 featured “significant” African-American characters; 59 had Latino characters; and 68 had Asian/Pacific American characters.  Those are pretty disappointing numbers.  Especially considering that just because a book got published, it doesn’t mean it’s a good book.

While these books aren’t being published in overwhelming numbers, there are quite a few good books starring minority characters out there.  A good place to start might be with a list of award-winning books, such as those that have won the Pura Belpré Award for Latino literature, or the Coretta Scott King Award for African-American literature.  You can also go back to some of our previous posts on award books and recommended reading for children and teens.  But your best bet?  Ask your librarian for help.  He or she will be happy to recommend something.


Jul 15 2008

Exploring Technology with Teens

by Amanda L

Last year, the library conducted a survey of adults over 55 about their knowledge and interest in services and programs. Can you guess what was one of the top areas of interest? If you said technology, you were right. With the help of the Senior Advisory board, we created an inter-generational program called Tech Talk: Exploring 21st Century technologies with teens. Two of the Senior Advisory board members specifically mentioned that seniors are on fixed incomes and wanted to learn about and how to use new technologies. Often they hesitate in purchasing new technologies unless they know if it will make their life easier or more enjoyable. This program pairs up teens with older adults to explore and learn about new technology.

Members of the Teen Advisory Board volunteered to be trained and then share their knowledge about a variety of technologies. The two hour training involved exploring learning styles, how to communicate technology concepts and included a demonstration between an older adult and the trainer. The training was an eye opener for not only the teens but also the trainer (me!).

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Jul 3 2008

Teen Lock-In Photos

by Jimmy L

The Teen Lock-in at the Redan-Trotti Library two weekends ago was a wild success. Much fun was had. And now, here are some pictures from that night:


Jun 17 2008

Book it to vote!

by Heather S

Peachgraphic_2 Calling all teens, you are not too young to vote in one election this year!  You can vote at the library and decide which book will be victorious in the race for the 2008-2009 Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers.  Be sure to carefully evaluate each candidate, because Pollsters are predicting a fierce competition for top book.  Cast your ballot before March 19, 2009.   

The twenty candidates listed on the ballot for the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers are:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Absolutely Positively Not by David LaRochelle
American Born Chinese by Gene Yang
Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
Epic by Conor Kostick
Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeiffer
Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick
Plain J.A.N.E.S. by Cecil Castellucci
Right Behind You by Gail Giles
Rucker Park Setup by Paul Volponi
Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss
Sold by Patricia McCormick
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld    

To find candidates at your local library, check their availability!



School’s out for the summer and your child is looking for something to read.  Newbery and Caldecott Award winners are a good place to start, but if you’ve exhausted those lists or you’re looking for something more recent, I’ve listed a few of my favorite sites below.

TeenReads is a great site for new releases, book reviews and author interviews.  They feature only books that are written for the teen audience, and have special sections for graphic novels and Christian fiction.  You can also browse their archive as far back as 2002 for books you might have missed when they first came out.

KidsReads is a similar site, but geared toward children in preschool through middle school age.  They review picture books, beginning chapter books, as well as fiction books for elementary and middle school.  Their special features include a list of books that have been turned into movies, popular series, and books soon to be released.

The American Library Association also has lots of good lists.  YALSA, the division of ALA devoted to young adults has lists of popular paperbacks, good books for college bound teens, great graphic novels and more.  ALSC, the division of ALA devoted to children’s services, has many lists, including bilingual books, books about diversity, and books for preschoolers, middle schoolers, and elementary age children.

The last site doesn’t contain book reviews, but it’s helpful if you’re looking for all the books by a particular author or the list of books in a series.  The Mid-Continent Public Library has put together a site that keeps an updated list of just about every series written for children and teens that you can think of.  You can search by title, author or series.  New books are added as they come out.  Books in a series are listed in chronological order so you’ll always know which one comes next.

If you have a favorite site to look for children’s books, list it in the comments.


May 20 2008

Best Teen Book of the Year

by Heather S

The ballots
have been cast and counted for the 2007-2008 Georgia Peach Award. After a year
of reading the twenty nominated titles, high school students across the state
voted for their favorite one at their public and school libraries.

And, the winner is Twilight
by Stephanie Meyer!

Honor book winners for the year are I’d
tell you that I love you but then I’d have to kill you
by Ally Carter and Peeps
by Scott Westerfield.

To see a
list of the nominated titles for 2007-2008 or for more information on what the award
is all about, check out the Georgia Library Media Association’s page on the Peach Award

Stay tuned
for the nominees for 2008-2009!


Apr 14 2008

Book Awards for Children

by Ginny C

There are so many awards given out each year to children’s and young adult books that it can be difficult to keep them all separate.  The biggest awards in children’s literature are the Caldecott and the Newbery. The Caldecott Medal is awarded for outstanding illustrations in a picture book.  Generally, these books are written for preschool and elementary age children.  The Newbery Medal is awarded for outstanding writing in a chapter book.  Books that win the Newbery are often written for children in upper elementary through middle school, although some books written for the teen audience have won the award.

Although the Caldecott and the Newbery are the most well known, there are other awards to be aware of.  The Sibert Award is given to the best children’s informational book (i.e. non-fiction.)  The Pura Belpre Award is award to the author/illustrator of the book that best depicts the Latino culture.  The Michael L. Printz Award is given to the author of the best book for young adults. 

The above awards are sponsored by the American Library Association and are given on a national level.  On a statewide level, Georgia also gives awards to outstanding childrens books.   The University of Georgia’s College of Education sponsors the Georgia Book Awards.  Once a year they release a list of 20 nominees in two categories: Picture Storybooks (for k – 3rd grade) and Chapter Books (for 4th – 8th grade.)  Throughout the year, children read and vote on their favorites and the winner is announced the following year.

For Georgia teens, there is the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers.  Started in 2004, it highlights fiction and non-fiction books written for grades 9 through 12.  Teens can vote for their favorite titles in schools and public libraries.

Check out the websites for complete lists of current and past winners and nominees.  They are a great place to start if you’re looking for something for your child or teenager (or for yourself) to read.  And don’t forget that most of the titles are available in the library!