ALA's Youth Media Awards - Anticipation is Growing

On Monday, January 28, 2013, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, thousands of librarians, publisher types, book people, and some educators will gather together to hear the announcement of the American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards There are twenty different children’s book awards that will be announced.  Though the most well known of these awards are the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, additional categories that represent a greater age range and increased diversity have also been added over the years.

During the hour-long announcements, the room will be filled with anticipation, excitement, and great energy.  There will be wild clapping as well loved favorites from 2012 are announced as winners.  However, there will also be stunned silence when heavily favored books are passed over for a lesser-known title.  And once the awards are announced, there will be a mad scramble by bookstores and libraries to stock the winning books on their shelves. 

In 2011, I sat in the auditorium listening to the silence as a relatively unknown title, Moon Over Manifest by debut author Claire Vanderpool claimed the prestigious Newbery Medal.  Last night, I had the honor of chatting with Vanderpool and Newbery Honor author, Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky).  Sometimes life is a bit surreal, and it will only become more so, when I enter the auditorium for the Youth Media Awards as one of the Book Award Committee members.  I have had the honor of serving on the 2013 Schneider Family Book Award Jury.  This past Friday, our committee carefully reviewed the books we had read and selected three titles to take home the Schneider Family Book Award (for a book with a positive portrayal of an individual with a disability).  As I write this, I am about to leave to join committee members in calling the award winners to let them know they have won.  And on Monday morning, I will have a seat near the other Award Committee members as all of the announcements are made.

My experience on this committee has given me new appreciation for those who select the Newbery and Caldecott Award Medal winning books.  I have learned that the average reader reads only a small portion of books that the committee reads and understandably wants their favorite book to win.  However, I have also learned that the committee may have found in their stacks a gem of a book that deserved to win even if it was unknown.  My “what were you thinking” questions will be replaced with an understanding that the committee took seriously the task before them by respecting the criteria of the award, and selecting what they felt was the best fit for the medal.  I look forward to sharing with students and teachers the winners from the 2013 ALA Youth Media Awards.        

The Youth Media Awards will be live-streamed ( for those who are unable to be present in person.  You can catch it on Twitter by following @alayma or the hashtag #alayma.  For those partial to Facebook, check out the Youth Media Awards Facebook page -