Sunday, August 27, 2017

Reading by Award List

Reader friends, I have a question for you today. Have you ever finished a really great book, realized it was the recipient of an award, and then felt the sudden desire to go read ALL THE BOOKS that have ever won that award? Most recently this happened when I read and loved A Northern Light which was my pick for our August book club meeting and it has won: a Printz Honor, a Carnegie Medal, and a Young Adult Literature Los Angeles Times Book Prize as well as several other lesser known awards. I must admit, it took a good bit of willpower to not promptly dump a truckload of new titles onto my TBR from the archives of those prizes.

So now I have a second question for you. Has anyone ever actually read (or attempted to read) through a prize list?! I am currently making my way through the Caldecott Medal and Honor books, and let me tell you, it is taking a LOT longer than I thought it would considering these are *just* picture books (with the odd graphic novel and longer illustrated work thrown in). The Caldecott stretches back to 1938, so we are talking a rather large quantity of books, even if the page count for each is relatively low.

First, I started with all the featured titles in Reading the Art in Caldecott Award Books. Then, I made a point of finding winning titles based on season and holidays throughout the year, as well as reading some of the newer winners once they were announced. For many months now, I've been browsing through the library stacks and tucking any books with a shiny Caldecott medal into my checkout pile whenever I spot them. And while it feels like I've read a TON of Caldecott books, there are still so many more remaining to be read! It is getting harder to locate those remaining ones, so I'm making a point to consult the master list and seek out (or place on hold) books that will fill in the gaps. As tempted as I am to try reading from other lists, I can hardly imagine doing this with novels -- especially with a well-established award. Still, one can dream, right?

Some other lists I have considered reading through:

Most distinguished contribution to American literature for children (ALSC)

Picture books and books for older readers excellent for reading aloud (The Association of Booksellers for Children)

Outstanding writing in a picture book published in the United States (Cooperative Children's Book Center)

4th, 5th, & 6th graders vote for their favorite books (found this one thanks to Top Shelf Text!)

Children's books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.

Honors an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of children's poetry (Pennsylvania Center for the Book)

Honors a living poet + curates lists of notable poetry books and verse novels

Books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults (YALSA)

Best audiobooks for children/young adults (YALSA)

Literary excellence in young adult literature (YALSA)

Celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in writing in fiction written by women. Previously  named the Orange Prize for Fiction

There is certainly no dearth of award-winning books if you go looking for them! I am well aware a more rational approach is to use these lists as inspiration rather than a checklist, but don't we always want to read ALL THE BOOKS? Yes, yes we do.

* * * * *

Are there any other book awards you like to keep tabs on? Have you ever read from an award list yourself? Do you have a favorite award-winning title? Or a title you don't think deserved an award? I'd love to hear about it!


  1. I've waffled around with reading through the Newbury books for years! Just never made a hard effort at it. Found some really good books on the list...a few duds too, though. :P Hehe!

    1. So many I have read have been great, but you're right, not all! There are so many to choose from even if we don't read the whole list :)

  2. Interesting topic! I've never read through an awards list, although a couple of years ago I saved myself a copy of the Printz list and kept it as a reference for when I felt like finding a new-to-me YA title or author.

    1. The Printz is a list that definitely intrigues me! I don't want to knock YA in general, but The Northern Light which was a Printz Honor book really stood out as really high-quality writing. I finished it and was like I need more YA like THAT in my reading life :)

  3. Yep! I read a winner of the Noble Prize for nonfiction and wanted to read them all, but I haven't been doing that in a particularly deliberate way yet.

    1. That would be a really challenging list I think! I hope you enjoy any more you may get to read :)

  4. I agree that reading through the Newberys is taking a lot longer than I thought! I have an unofficial goal to get through a decade a year, which means I have a lot of years to go to get back to 1922. And that's just the winners, not the Honor books! I like the idea of reading all the E.B. White winners, because that award hasn't been around nearly as long. And there are a couple others on your list of awards that I'm going to check out. This may have been a dangerous post for me... :)

    1. You know, I was wondering if your Newbery goal was all of them or just the medals and now I know! It is such a huge list -- were only 5 years away from the 100th anniversary after all! I like the decade a year plan, but for myself I probably should make an effort to read all the ones I own that I picked up mostly at used book stores and garage sales first -- there have been SO MANY I've found at those places :)


I'd love to hear what you think :)