From the Caldecott, to the Newbery, to the Pura Belpré Awards, the American Library Association (ALA) is about to announce winners in many children’s book categories at its upcoming Midwinter Conference on January 28.
Mamis often ask me how to find great books for their children, and how they can tell the good ones from the not so good. Keeping up with book awards, or simply looking for books that bear these stamps of approval on their covers may be among the easiest ways to do both of these things.
Awards are also particularly important to books that may not receive as much coverage as the ones considered more “mainstream.” Latino-interest books fall under this category, as do many others. That’s why I decided to provide Mamiverse readers with some information on the children’s book awards to know—with a special emphasis on awards geared toward Latino-interest titles. In future posts, I will expand a bit more on each award, but for now, this general roundup should help you find more quality books for the children in your life.
The Caldecott Medal
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. While only a single medal is given, a few (generally no more than five) illustrated books are designated Caldecott Honor books along with the medal winner each year.
The Newbery Award
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children—generally a longer work of fiction. Like the Caldecott, the Newbery is given to a single work, but Honors are bestowed to other works each year.
The Geisel Medal
The Geisel Award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. Winners are also announced in the Honor category.
The Michael L. Printz Award
The Michael L. Printz Award annually honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit. In addition, the Printz Committee names up to four Honor books, which also represent the best writing in young adult literature.
The Pura Belpré Award
The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. Established in 1996, the award is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The Pura Belpré awards medals in both the Author and Illustrator categories, and includes Honor titles in each.
While the awards listed above are all sponsored by the American Library Association, there are a couple of other Latino-interest awards you should know about:
The Américas Award
The Américas Award is given in recognition of U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction (from picture books to works for young adults) published in the previous year in English or Spanish that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. The award is sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP). The award committee also grants an honorable mention and provides a list of commended titles along with the winners, the latter of which are usually comprised of a picture book and a longer narrative work. The winning books are honored at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
The Tomás Rivera Book Award
Texas State University College of Education developed the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican-American experience. The award was established in 1995 and was named in honor of Dr. Tomás Rivera, a distinguished alumnus of Texas State University. There is usually a single winner of this award, though 2012 yielded two co-winners!
Look out for my next editorial at the end of the month, where I will announce 2013’s American Library Association winners. Happy reading!