Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Verdict

I read this post on author Michelle Davidson Argyle's blog the other day, and it got me thinking a lot about book awards. Remember the Shine/Chime fiasco late last year? Or this unabashed slam on anything not a classic...YA being the main target?

As a homeschooling mom, we read a lot of classics at home. From Shakespeare and Dickens to practically every Newbery Award winning novel ever written. But guess what? My kids don't love ALL of them. Awards are nice. You get a shiny sticker on the cover, a fancy tag added to your name. But it's an award from adults to adults for a book they think people should read. 

As a writer for children, I can't help but wonder--shouldn't a child's opinion be the most important? From toddlers to teens? They are the ones reading it, after all? (Okay, I know parents are reading them to the kids a lot of the time, but just go with me :)

That's one reason why I love the Beehive Book Awards. It's a local award given here in my home state of Utah that is voted upon by children. They read the books. They cast the votes. Brilliant, no? 

One of my dear friends hosts a girls writing group which my daughter attends. A couple of years ago, my friend challenged each of the girls to read every book on the Beehive list and cast their votes. As a reward, she took them to the Beehive Awards Banquet for a fancy dress-up dinner to hear the results. It has been a tradition ever since, and this last weekend I got to go with the group.

*Me at the banquet with child #1...soon to be 13 y.o. Yikes*

How fun to be in a room full of librarians and children's literature enthusiasts with a table of kids who cheered and hollered when their favorites won. Talk about making them feel their opinion matters when it comes to what they should be reading. I loved it.

How do you feel about book awards? Do you know of other child-voted awards out there?


Cortney Pearson said...

I don't know of many awards, but the beehive one sounds fabulous! And I love that you guys read classics. It depends on the classic for me, whether it's boring or not. ;)

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Wow, I had never read that post slamming the "insipid YA literature" like that. Incredible. I find it sad when any literature is elevated above another for intended consumption. Shouldn't it be what works for the audience reading it? Which is why I love your post and The Beehive Awards. Really brilliant. :)

I adore classics. I still read them, and many of them are amongst my favorites. I tackled this issue a little bit in my novel, The Breakaway, where my main character absolutely loathes classics and only loves fantasy. Hehe. It was a fun layer to the story.

But while I love classics, I'm still exploring other literature. YA contemporary is amongst some of my favorite reading now.

I think prizes have their place, most definitely. I'm still trying to sort out all my feelings about the Pulitzer prize not being awarded. :)

Cassie Mae said...

That sounds like a blast! I'm not sure how I feel about book awards cuz I don't know much about them. :)

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

Wow, that sounds like a fabulous award idea.

ilima said...

Cortney-Some are wonderful, some...not so much.

Michelle-guess what came in the mail yesterday??? The Breakaway! I can't wait to read it.

Cassie-It was way fun.

Jaycee-Go kids!

F said...

I'd heard about the Chime/Shine mix up, but I hadn't read the article by Alexander Nazaryan, and to be honest, I'm as shocked as you. Who says that YA novels don't hold any value? If anything, it holds more value today because YA talks about real issues, modern day circumstance - I'm sure none of the children are going to relate to Oedipus as much as they're going to relate to Walter Dean Myers' characters. I understand the point he was trying to make about the need for classics, but he shouldn't slam all YA just because the classics seem to hold more literary 'value'.

But away from that anger-inducing article, I think the Beehive Book Awards are a great idea. Like you said, it is young people who are going to read these books, so why not let them be the judge for once?

This was a great post, Ilima!

jaybird said...

Um, first of all, you look so young in this picture I had to do a double take when you said it was of you and your daughter. I thought it was a picture of your kids!! So, totally jealous over here.

Second, I have never heard of the Bee Hive Awards but if they came to NJ, I would definitely bring my girls to such an amazing event! So now, you made me jealous, twice!! LOL

Jeremy Bates said...

Book awards merely feed the egos of us writers and are of little other use save there is a substantial monetary bonus that comes along with it.

Sounds like the kids got a bang out of it. Good for them. Perhaps it will encourage them to write and/or read more frequently.

Kathryn Purdie said...

Ilima, how awesome that you got to attend that banquet with your daughter. I love that those kids feel more invested in the awards and that, most importantly, they get more excited about reading because of it. So cool!