My Hope for Monday’s Awards

Tomorrow we will crown new Children’s Literature champions. Books will be given a spot in history. Authors schedules will get slammed. My heart will get broken.

Newbery Medal image

Fourteen awards will be handed out Monday morning, but I choosing to focus on one. My favorite: The John Newbery Medal. I hope that the Newbery committee gets it right. My fear is that they will pick a book for the wrong reasons. The Newbery Medal is to be awarded to the book, “For The Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children”. What the heck does that mean? To me, it means that the book needs to be a book that kids will love. I don’t care how well plotted the book is, or how strong the characters are, if kids don’t like it: it is not distinguished.

Working with readers everyday, I have come across books that I feel are extremely well written, and kids love them. How do I know kids love them? I asked them.  They told me. We talked about them.

I have 5 books on my Newbery shortlist. I would be THRILLED to see any of the following books Medal or Honor on Monday.

I adore the following authors, and I admit that that may be a factor as to why I picked their books. On second thought, I think that fact that I love their books, is a big reason why I adore them.

The Trouble With May Amelia -Jennifer L. Holm

Breadcrumbs – Anne Ursu

Bigger Than a Bread Box – Laurel Snyder

The Friendship Doll – Kirby Larson

Hound Dog True – Linda Urban

All of these books cannot win. That makes me sad. All 5 of these ladies have written gorgeous books. Books that I feel are tremendous contributions, and books that kids love.

I am now going to talk a little bit more about 3 of the books. I have witnessed first hand the power and beauty of Hound Dog True, The Trouble with May Amelia, and Bigger Than a Bread Box.

Hound Dog True

I am currently reading Hound Dog True aloud to my fourth graders. Last week I read them chapter 5. If your have read HDT, chapter 5 is where we read about the incident between Star and Maddie. The class was blown away. I began to start talking about the chapter with the class, but held back.  I gave them a chance to process. It felt like time was standing still. No one was moving. They were frozen solid. I’m not sure that they were even blinking.

That my friends is DISTINGUISHED.

Bigger Than a Bread Box

How this book received no stared reviews is beyond me. It makes me want to use cuss words in this post. Wouldn’t it be fun if Newbery shocked the world and gave Bread Box the love that it deserves?

Bread Box has made its way around my classroom the first half of the year. It is never in the classroom library. I really should purchase more copies.

It was when I sat down with a boy reading Bread Box that I truly saw how special a book it was. As sat and talked with a 10 year-old boy about what he called, “The best book ever written”. I saw how a boy that had been effected by divorce was touched by this book. “Mr. Sharp, I feel like Laurel wrote this book for me.”

My response, “She did.”

Does it get more DISTINGUISHED than that?

The Trouble With May Amelia

I love everything Jennifer Holm. Let’s just get that out of the way. I would read her grocery list.

The Trouble With May Amelia is brilliant.

My May Amelia story includes a former student that is now in seventh grade. She is always stopping by to chat books. She catches all the big fevers: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight.

I wanted to give her something different. Something that would rock her socks. I gave her May Amelia. Three days later she was back. With tears in her eyes hugging the book she said, “Thank you Mr. Sharp. This is the best book I have ever read.”


I wish that I could talk more about The Friendship Doll and Breadcrumbs, but they are just beginning their journey around Room 23. I’m excited to see what the experts think (10 year-old readers).

I’m confident that by the time anyone reads this post, The committee will make me look like an idiot. That’s okay. I think I have a pretty good idea of it means to be a “Distinguished contribution to children’s literature.”


3 thoughts on “My Hope for Monday’s Awards

  1. Well I’ve read your post and don’t think you are an idiot. 🙂 Considering I’d be thrilled with any of the books you chose, we can be idiots together – but I hope we don’t have to.

    I don’t know why “kid appeal” isn’t part of the award. I get that maybe some books wouldn’t be in the running for whatever reason, but I don’t get others. And I still go back to Charlotte’s Web – how it even got an honor in 1953 I don’t get. And I’ve never heard of Secret of the Andes – but I’ll be reading it in a few months, maybe I’m wrong. And we won’t even talk about 2007. Grr.

    Also – I’ve been trying to figure this out – can the committee just award as many or few honors as they deem appropriate? There are so many books I would like them to pick, I don’t know how they will choose.

    In less than 24 hours we will know. Yikes!


  2. Why aren’t you on the Newbery committee? I think you have a firm grasp on the true meaning of “most distinguished contribution.” Sadly, firmer than those who are actually on the committee. But who knows? Maybe we will all be happily surprised tomorrow!


  3. In talking with my 12 year old son, he says he looks for the award label so he knows which books NOT to read…. Kid appeal is obviously not a part of the equation!


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