Every year in the late fall, youth librarian geeks throughout the U.S. start making predictions as to what will win the various youth book awards. The three best-known youth literary awards in the United States are the Caldecott, the Newbery and the Printz, and all are awarded by divisions of the American Library Association at the midwinter meeting in January.
Several years ago, I got to serve on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. It was a great, although exhausting, experience. I read all of at least 150 books (and a number of these twice), plus bits of 50 or so more books (all while working full time). My committee and I were fortunate in that 2003 was a fabulous year for teen books. We nominated titles, talked non-stop about books, eliminated some titles, and talked some more. Our meetings were impassioned but respectful, and we ultimately came up with a winner and four honor books.
Many libraries host mock award workshops that involve reading, discussing and voting on possible winners. Over the last few years, Multnomah County Library, in conjunction with the Oregon Young Adult Network has hosted a Mock Printz Workshop. Librarians and teens read ten books in advance and come prepared to discuss the titles based on the Printz Award's criteria. We get together in small groups to talk about the books, and then the voting begins. It's a great way to become familiar with new books for teens and to discuss what makes a good young adult book. This year's discussion will feature the following eleven books:
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Paper Towns by John Green
The Last Exit to Normal by Michael B. Harmon
My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart
The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer
Madapple by Christina Meldrum
Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
Black Box by Julie Schumacher
Skim by Mariko Tamaki
Want to participate in geekishness? Find out who won on the morning of January 26 by checking the live webcast of the press conference on the Association for Library Services to Children's Website. And may the best book win!