|photo by cogdogblog|
There are so many choices today.
Different genres and sub-genres.
Original stories and spin-offs ... and spin-offs of spin-offs.
Books for different age groups. Classics. Modern stories.
Are all children's books good read-alouds? If not, how do you find out which are the good ones?
Should you read classics? Should you read graphic novels?
It is one thing to read silently for yourself, but it is a completely different game to read a children's book aloud. Especially when you have a pair of loving eyes watching your every move or when that pair of eyes is restless and watching everything else except your moves.
There are a couple of important things that you must know.
If you enter a dark phase when reading loses its allure - there is a source of light that will help you shine the brightest beam across the ocean of children's books.
Two lights in fact, like two Pharos lighthouses. Two wonders of the world of children's literature.
The Newbery and Caldecott Medal (and Honor) books. Both are awarded annually by the American Library Association for outstanding contributions to children's literature.
[If you want a ranking of some of the most popular winners, here is a list of some of the most popular Newberry winners and most popular Caldecott winners from GoodReads. ]
Having a medal can mean that a great book becomes timeless.
It can make a bestseller out of a popular book.
Libraries will typically order countless copies.
And if you ask kids about these timeless medals, well, face it, they simply .... couldn't care less.
When The Teacher is Ready, The Book Will Appear
The dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down.
Newbery and Cladecott winning books are easily identifiable. They carry a large printed medal on the cover. What does it mean? It means that the book won the award or was an honor book that year.
But, what does it mean to kids?
|photo by archer10|
Probably just because grown-ups think that kids should be reading more. Nothing new there.
Well, our kids have a point.
Think about it. Their definition is not far from the truth.
Depends on your perspective.
So, award-winning children's books have several things going against them from the outset.
- a shady bunch of anonymous grown-ups liked the book and slapped a sticker on it
- the rest of the adults "insist" (although we may not use that word, but our body language gives us away) that kids should read it.
Let me rephrase that.
At least, I wouldn't want to read it alone. As a chore.
But, if I had company, I might be willing to change my mind.
Especially, if I had someone enthusiastic about reading it aloud with/to me and even help me with the "boring parts" or "difficult" stuff.
Someone to put things in context, to answer my questions - well, then I might even enjoy it.
I don't blame kids who are not willing to read a book if they do not see someone else willing to invest time reading.
Especially as it was a group of adults who said it was so fabulous anyway.
And when I say grown-ups, I don't mean adults working at the kid's school.
It is not enough for us adults to put a medal on a book and then expect someone to read it because of the sticker.
Remember, throughout history medals were awarded to individuals deemed to have distinguished themselves with notably courageous deeds.
Let us show our kids what medals are all about.
We can distinguish ourselves by reading the Medal and Honor books with our children. From cover to cover.
We as parents must earn those Newbery and Caldecott medals, if we want our kids to see them as something more than mere shiny stickers.
Note: We love Newbery and Caldecott books at our home and we read them ALL the time. Medal and honor books - we have many in our collection. This post was an exercise in thinking, trying to view the books from a different position.
Note 2: This post was - although the title may indicate otherwise - written in support of the ALA book awards. My sole wish is to promote more reading of these books - by parents and children together.