Last Tuesday, about five hundred young readers filled the seats of Judd Hall at Vermont Technical College for the 2014 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Ceremony. You could feel the excitement in the air as soon as the students walked through the doors. The entire hall buzzed with conversation and laughter. But when Vermont authors Linda Urban and Tanya Lee Stone stood up in front of the crowd and began to speak, everyone went completely silent. We all hung on to their every last word.
The DCF Ceremony is an incredible day that not only celebrates the DCF award, but also celebrates the DCF readers. Librarians throughout the state are encouraged to bring a few of their students to celebrate. These students have all read at least five of the DCF books and have voted for their favorite. Some have read all thirty books on the list!
Each year, the winner of the DCF award is invited to speak to the students at the ceremony. Unfortunately, this year’s winner R.J. Palacio, who wrote Wonder, was unable to attend. Fortunately, two amazing Vermont writers, who happen to be on the new DCF list, could be there. Tanya Lee Stone and Linda Urban bravely spoke about their careers as writers, how and why they became writers, and what made them decide to never give up. You can listen to their speeches here.
Stone and Urban answered students’ questions and afterwards greeted a long line of new fans. They were swarmed with kids who wanted to talk to them and have their pictures taken with them, and it was a thrill to see the excitement on the students’ faces. I felt like I witnessed something really special that day. I witnessed how important books and reading can be for a child. I watched as five hundred students left the ceremony feeling inspired. They left feeling like the world is theirs, like anything is possible. I know this, because I saw the smiles on their faces. I know this, because I felt it, too.