Thursday, December 18, 2008

And About Time, Too

People are noticing that the Newbery Award is your guide to depressing, issue-laden bibliotherapeutic yawn-inducers. Started with this post on the School Library Journal blog:
Right before the announcement of this year’s Newbery winner, I had two surprising encounters. First, a librarian at my local public library confessed that she had no interest in learning “what unreadable Newbery the committee was going to foist on us this year.” Then, a few weeks later at an education conference, I was startled to hear several teachers and media specialists admit they hadn’t bought a copy of the Newbery winner for the last few years. Why? “They don’t appeal to our children,” they explained patiently. (more)
Got linked by people falling over themselves to point out that they'd noticed the Emperor's sartorial deficiencies a long time ago, and finally the blogstorm got picked up on the Washington Post's radar. My favorite quote, from an ALA flack:
"The criterion has never been popularity," said Pat Scales, president of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. "It is about literary quality. We don't expect every child to like every book. How many adults have read all the Pulitzer Prize-winning books and the National Book Award winners and liked every one?"
You see, if the kids aren't devouring these books, it's because they're just too lowbrow, like their parents who probably wouldn't know a Pulitzer if it fell on their morning newspaper. It's the children's fault.

By the way, I hadn't realized that Hendrik van Loon's Story of Mankind was one of the early Newbery winners, back when ordinary librarians got to vote, and they just counted the ballots. Van Loon's book, though a bit dated now, is one of the lesser-known homeschooling standards, used by parents who would prefer an engaging world history written by a fairminded and respectful atheist to a dull, unreliable one by a religious partisan (yes, I mean A Beka and Anne Carroll, for a start).

(HT Joanne Jacobs)

3 Comments:

Blogger mrsdarwin said...

Wasn't Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! a Newbery winner? We checked it out from the library on CD and enjoyed listening to it. Of course, it was written as a series on monologues about a medieval village, so perhaps it had more immediacy as a spoken production. I was actually wondering if it was the sort of thing that the homeschoolers around here could put on -- 20-odd three minute monologues, no group rehearsals, etc.

6:42 AM  
Blogger mrsdarwin said...

And I can't bear Anne Carroll's history -- but you've known that since our days in Amy Welborn's combox. :)

6:43 AM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Good Masters! is one of the few recent winners that general readers seem to have liked, according to the first blog post.

There seem to be two converging criticisms: one is that the books are depressing and necessarily about "serious" subjects, which I think has been a longterm problem with the Newbery; the other is that they're now also dull.

Anne Carroll deserves her own blog rant. I leave that to the Darwins. :-)

8:31 AM  

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