Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Opinion: The Ongoing Newbery Debate

I noticed today in my local coffee shop/favorite lunch spot that the Washington Post had just added some fuel to the Newbery fire: Critics Say Newbery-Winning Books Are Too Challenging for Young Readers.

This headline is rather misleading, as this is a fairly even-handed article, talking about how the Newbery denotes a lot of status, not to mention sales increases--yet many people are not aware of what requirements are needed for a book to win the Newbery Medal. As the article cites, many people believe that the award is for books written for children that are between the ages of eight and twelve. But as us librarians know, the Newbery is awarded to the work of children's literature of the highest quality--a book that is appropriate for a child up to and including the age of fourteen.

It's always interesting to see how the outside world views the work we do, especially when it comes to something like the Newbery that has gone beyond libraryland. This article does a fairly good job of looking at this issue from various points of view. Regardless of how you feel about Anita Silvey's original article, I think this new article gives us some more food for thought on this ongoing issue.

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