January 23, 2009

And the Winner Is...


Well, here we come to the end.  The book awards will be announced soon.  Many have weighed in on the possible picksBack in November I threw out the idea of giving up on awards altogether.  I was mostly playing devil's advocate to see what kind of defense would be put up.  Kiri8 over at Elbows, Knees, Dreams had a god one: "I like teaching a room full of four-year-olds to recognize Caldecott medals, and to hear them exclaim, "Cow-di-cot!" when they see one on a book I'm holding.

No argument with that!

But Roger Stutton reminded me that the best thing about any awards is the arguments they start. Ok, sir!  I bow to your expertise!  And I quoted him on this before, but it's good to keep in mind:


"...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."

(top image CC Vimages)

4 comments:

Kim Kasch said...

There are a lot of things that get awards that aren't my favorites. I've tried some award-winning recipes and thought, Yuck!

So, it's all perspective and personality - and taste.

But awards do give us ideas of things to maybe try that we wouldn't have known about otherwise: like aebleskiver.

Teacherninja said...

Aebleskiver? I'm afraid to ask...

Doret said...

That poor little girl. What was that mom thinking.

kiri8 said...

Wow, I can't believe you remembered what I said all these months later.

It is true that I teach my students to recognize Caldecotts, and that Caldecotts are the sign of a Really Good Book. However, I pick and choose from the Caldecotts. I don't read them the ones that don't inspire me. The Hello Goodbye Window and Kitten's Full Moon don't really do much for me, among recent winners.

I haven't ever taught my students the difference between a gold medalist and a silver -- some of the best books we read have the silver medal on them.