Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Best of the "Best of" Lists in Children's Litterature

Well, as we face a new year, we instinctively look back to asses the year behind us.  What can we learn, what can we take forward and what should we leave far behind us?  The children's book world is no different, and so I thought for the final post of the year I would give you some of the "the best of" lists for 2012.  Sadly, because I am a Cybils judge I am precluded from giving you my own list of kid's books that rocked my world this year (oh those pesky rules,) but I can share with you some lists that I follow.

The thing to remember is that each list has its own perspective and criteria for selection.  Some represent the most culturally diverse books, some the most notable from a literary standpoint, and some the most innovative.  That doesn't mean that your child will necessarily like all of the selections, but you can be assured that they represent exciting and creative things happening in children's literature.

Brain Pickings is a wonderful website which, to quote "bring(s) you things you didn't know you were interested in until you are."  Their book choices are always graphically a delight, culled from little known sources and are books that push the envelope.  This year they have listed their Best Illustrated Children's Books and Picturebooks of 2012.  I always leave this site thoroughly inspired!

The Children's Book Council (CBC) is the non profit trade association of children's book publishers.  They put together a list of titles, culled from other best of lists (got that) that focus on diversity.  As our population looks less and less homogeneous, and as children continue to be drawn to books that reflect their heritage, history and fantasies, I love to see exceptional titles that celebrate a variety of main characters.  So please check out the lovely books on the CBC Diversity roundup.

The New York Times Notable Children's Books of 2012 is simply a must read just because it is the New York Times!  I actually quite like their Book Review Features Editor, Pamela Paul, who is smart and quite down to earth.   However, given that they are a bit of a highbrow publication when it comes to literature, I find their list a mix of books kids will love and books grownup reviewers looking for excellence in children's literature will love.  So for me this list is an interesting mix of both.

I wanted to include the Kirkus Best Children's Books of 2012 list, which is especially nice because of the breadth of titles.  They also include graphic novels, which I appreciate.  Kirkus has been reviewing books since 1933 and their starred reviews are coveted in the industry.  Their editor, Vicky Smith, has definitely included fun titles in the 2012 selections, along with some notable books.  A very nice breadth of choices.  

And last, but certainly not least, the 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children's Literature.  This award prides itself on finding the unusual or under-the-radar choices.  These are books that are described as gems that will delight adults as well as children.  This group is usually a mixed bag for me, with some amazing finds that kids will love, and some very unusual and intellectual books that probably are more amazing to the adults in the room.  This list always tests my book knowledge and brings some new titles to my attention.

Now I would certainly be remiss not to remind you of the Cybils!  These are the internet book awards for which I am a finalist judge in middle grade fiction.  We have just learned our super secret finalist list from the wonderful first round judges, and if I may so, the selection looks marvelous!  While I can say no more, I will include a link to last year's winners.  What I love about these awards is that they represent books that are not only well written, but that are also ones kids actually want to read!  The Cybils 2011 Awards

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