Up until Saturday morning, I had about 10 boxes of books sitting in my living room and dozens of middle grade and young adult books scattered throughout my house. I had a pile of books to read when I was upstairs, a pile of books to read when I was downstairs, a pile of books on my nightstand. Books were everywhere.
You may already be familiar with the Dorothy Canfield Fisher (DCF) Book Award list, Vermont’s state book award list for grades 4 through 8. You may also be aware that the list is comprised of 30 titles, that teachers and librarians promote the list throughout the year, and that kids vote on their favorite book every April. What you might not know, however, is how the list is selected and why my living room was so cluttered.
There is a committee of eight public librarians, school librarians, and other professionals involved in children’s literature that develop the list. For the past three years, I have been a proud member of this committee. Each year, we are responsible for compiling the most distinguished books published for children in grades 4 through 8 from the preceding year.
Publishing houses send us numerous books to review, and this year we received about 20 boxes (over 250 books!). Throughout the year, if we find a book we think should potentially be on the list, we nominate it. Then, if a book receives three nominations or more, it is discussed at our final meeting when we select the official list.
The reason there are no longer 10 boxes of books in my living room is that “Reading Season,” as I like to call it, came to an end on Saturday when we selected the 30 titles for this year’s list. Selection day is a day I look forward to — I get to hang out with a group of hilarious, smart, and knowledgeable people who love children’s literature like I do.
On Saturday, we sat around a table and took turns explaining why we loved a certain book and why it should be included on the list. If five or more members voted yes, the book was placed on the official list. We made tough decisions and put a lot of thought into our selections. It took about seven hours to select the titles (though we did take a break for a delicious potluck lunch), and we ended the day with a pretty incredible list. You can find it here: http://libraries.vermont.gov/libraries/cbec/dcf
I’m so excited to promote this new list and to hear what our young readers think! Selecting the list has been an overwhelming yet fun challenge, and now that Reading Season is over, I am faced with a new challenge: What do I read next?