March 6, 2008

Awards Don't Mean It's for You

Sign up for the new Horn book e-newsletter, if you can. I love Roger Sutton's blog, too. In the inaugural edition of this new newsletter he stresses the importance of looking past the award winners to get the right book for your reader (or even yourself).

"...just because a book has won an award does not mean it is the right book for any one particular child. Maurice Sendak tells a funny story about encountering a mother who proudly told him that she read his Where the Wild Things Are every night to her child despite the fact that the girl screamed in fear every time. When Sendak asked her why she didn’t choose a different book, she replied, 'But this one won the Caldecott Medal.' Members of award committees read widely and well but, in the case of the Newbery and Caldecott awards, are charged with rewarding aesthetic achievement rather than predicting popular appeal. They also lack ESP and thus don’t know about your child’s interests, abilities, or idiosyncrasies... Prizes are designed to call attention to good books, but as the wise Nora Ephron once wrote, 'Even if it is good you do not have to like it.' That’s a maxim to remember both for your own and your child’s reading."