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The Bank Street Children's Books Committee Children's Book Awards

The Purple Crayon Blog March 2008
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On March 13, I attended the award ceremony for the Children's Book Committee's awards, at which the 2008 edition of their "The Best Children's Books of the Year" list was also released. The "Best Books" list and the awards deserve more attention than they get (if you have heard about them, you are in a minority); they are carefully selected by a committee with a long history, and with the help of child reviewers, and they have a different "take" on the field than that provided by the ALA awards, ALA Notables lists, and the "Best of" end-of-year lists by publications such as Booklist and School Library Journal. The ceremony itself draws a crowd of NY children's book folk: editors, writers, members of the Committee, and Bank Street staff.

First, a little background, for those who don't know Bank Street College for Education and the Children's Book Committee. Bank Street College has a long history as a source of progressive approaches to education, has programs for school leaders as well as teachers, and runs an elementary school. The Children's Book Committee was founded by the Child Study Association of America in 1912 and has been part of Bank Street since 1977.

The "Best Children's Books of the Year" list is my personal favorite of the various lists that try to identify the cream of a year's crop. It includes about 600 titles, and is nicely organized by age and subject. Since it's more inclusive than other lists, you're more likely to find a title to fill a particular need. It's also a good guide to the publishers who are producing the best books. This year's list includes titles from nearly 100 different imprints. Many of those are, of course, imprints at one of the large corporate publishers, but you will also find many smaller, independent publishers; I see Albert Whitman, August House, Bethany House, Boyds Mill, Cavendish, Charlesbridge, Enchanted Lion, Kane/Miller, Kar-Ben, Lee & Low, Maple Tree, Mayhaven, National Geographic, Peachtree, Star Bright, Sylvan Dell, Tricycle, and Tundra. There are others, but that should give you an idea. So I recommend the list as a useful snapshot of last year's best books and an entry point to learning about the publishers publishing them. You can order it online here, by the way.

Three awards were presented. They were:

The Josette Frank Award for fiction: Home of the Brave, by Katherine Applegate (the author of Animorphs and other series, yes), published by Feiwel and Friends

The Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, shared by:

Here's a Litttle Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry, compiled by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, published by Candlewick Press

This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, by Joyce Sidman (inspired by a poetry-writing exercise with children), published by Houghton Mifflin

The Flora Steiglitz Straus Award for nonfiction, shared by :

Who Was First? Discovering the Americas, by Russell Freedman, published by Clarion Books

Ballerina Dreams, by Lauren Thompson, published by Feiwel and Friends

Each award-winner gave a short speech, or sent a speech to be read by their editor. And then we all headed for the # 1 train back downtown. I sat happily in my seat, browsing through the Best Children's Books list, and marking up the pages with books I wanted to find.

I hope you have found this page and this site useful. Please visit The Purple Crayon Bookstores page to find some recommended bookstores and to learn how to support this site while doing your usual online shopping. Thank you.

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