Lemony Snicket and John Klassen’s The Dark!
No, I’m not talking about the Caldecott or Newbery medals or anything like that. I’m talking about the Georgia Children’s Picture Book Nominee. Every year a committee of parents and educators creates a list of twenty picture books for the students in the state to read/listen to and vote on. We finished this past week and sent in our votes for all the books but for us, The Dark was the clear winner with Z is For Moose as our runner up.
I was happy that that’s what they chose because it was my favorite to read aloud as well. My favorite doesn’t always win (and the one our school picks isn’t always the winner either) but this time we meshed. It was the only book that totally hooked everyone I read it to until the end (whether they liked the ending or not).
Now, some caveats. I mostly read to Kindergartners and some 1st graders. Therefore I don’t read all twenty books. A few are just too long or meant for slightly older audiences. The committee is choosing nominees for all elementary aged students, but the way our schedule works, I don’t get to read to every grade level.
Also, K & 1st are notoriously bad voters. I’ve tried everything from raised hands to tokens in separate bags to whatever. But the way I did it this year seemed best. I reviewed all the titles we’d read and showed them the cover of each one, then as they were milling about picking books for checkout time I’d approach each one individually, show them the list with pictures of the covers and ask which was their favorite. That way, the voting was much more authentic and spread out. Other methods end up with kids influencing the others. I had to be out for one of the classes and a helper took that class’s votes. She went to small groups of them sitting at tables and sure enough, they influenced each other’s and that was the only class which had votes bunched up around three or four titles.
It’s okay, it’s not the most scientific thing in the world. It’ll be interesting to see which book wins it. I’m thinking either The Dark or Z is for Moose but I’ve been wrong before. To me, this means more than those other awards because while adults pick the slate of nominees, the kids get to pick for themselves. There are so many awards that are so meaningless, at least when it comes to finding the right book for the right student, but the state award winners chosen by the students are usually more of a clue to what kids actually enjoy.
The full list of nominees and the nominees for the Georgia Children’s Book Award can be found here.