Did you see the ALA Youth Media Awards this year? They are SO COOL. Groundbreaking choices were made in every category of these annual awards for children's books. Here's why:
1) Diversity rules!
This year's Medal and Honor recipients are African-American, Latino, Asian, multiracial, deaf, queer, and differently abled. The Newbery and Caldecott Awards have been criticized in the past for being overwhelmingly white; perhaps the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement is causing a cultural shift in children's literature.
2) A graphic novel won a NEWBERY HONOR for the first time.
A big surprise, because the Newbery is for best writing in a book for young readers; traditionally, illustrations are not to be considered. Since graphic novels are written in both words and pictures, it would seem this year's Newbery committee broke from tradition and considered visual text in honoring CeCe Bell's wonderful El Deafo.
3) A graphic novel won a Caldecott Honor, also for the first time.
This one seems more natural, since the Caldecott is for illustration. But no graphic novel has ever won or been honored before. Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's This One Summer is also the first book for older kids to nab a Caldecott Honor, which has caused some controversy.
4) A picture book won the Stonewall Award for the first time ever.
We love Gayle Pitman and Kristyna Litten's This Day in June here at OPL-- happy rhyming text and colorful pictures depict a gay pride parade, complete with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. It's the first time in the award's 44 year history that a picture book has taken the prize, confirming that there are wonderful books for the very youngest about queer life.
5) Dan Santat cried like a baby when he found out he won the Caldecott.
Which is pretty adorable. You can see lots of winners and honorees get the call here.
6) I got to watch them live.
Braggy brag brag. The ALA Youth Media Awards are basically the Oscars for children's literature. But ours start at 8am, not 8pm, and you have to get there by 7 if you want a seat. There's no formalwear, but I did see at least three people including myself wearing these sweet socks.
7) ...after a 6:30am talk by Cornel West.
ALA knocked it out of the park with this year's keynote speaker for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunrise Celebration. Seeing him speak was thrilling. But here I go bragging again.