There is an emailing list on my gmail account that is marked “Newbery Committee 2002” — and most members from the group still routinely email each other with news, opinions on new books and award winners, and with “party planning” details to meet up at each and every ALA conference. We’ve been doing that for over 10 years now.
In the meantime, some of us have changed jobs or retired and many have traveled or moved to another place. But there is a strong bond between the majority of the members. We even had a 10-year reunion and were written up in PW.
Last night, as I hyperventilated over how much behind I am in the reading process (I am SUCH a slow reader it’s almost embarrassing — but I’m not really embarrassed to have to sound out every word and to not be able to scan as I read this adopted language,) I had to tell myself: “Hey, last time around, you were dealing with a job, a 2.5 year old child, and the aftermath of 9/11: being displaced from our apartment and moved to three different places from September to February… and you MANAGED!” So, I can do this again now!
That led to a revelation that might be or not be true: Could it be possible that the bond has been so strong because we, as a group, went through something world shattering and life changing in our own separate places with a strong thread that is reading children’s books stitching all of us together? I distinctively remember the solace that reading and putting myself into the world of whatever book I delved into at the time offered me. I also recall heated child_lit debate on what kind of books are more healing — definitely NOT books on disasters or world colliding politics (in my opinion.) Laughters, inspirational friendships, peaceful goals, and saint-like, GOOD human beings definitely made for the best “escapism” for me.
Not saying that these are the reasons why we chose to honor the books we did — since there was definitely long and arduous debate and examination of many many more worthy titles of the year based purely on their literary merits — but look at the three titles we put on the list:
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
Carver by Marilyn Nelson
Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
Please take time to read all of them and to share them with your students and young readers — they might not be FOR everyone but they are each in its own right special and incredibly inspiring.