June 3, 2016
At the upcoming ALA Annual meeting in Orlando, NoveList will lend its support to the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and Non-Fiction. We will be joining an illustrious list of sponsors, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Booklist, RUSA and of course the American Library Association itself. While it might come as no surprise to you that NoveList would be supportive of these awards, I want to share with you why we are doing this.
Since 1922, ALA’s Newbery Medal has recognized the author who has made the most outstanding contribution to American literature for children. Since 1938, the same association has given the Caldecott Medal to recognize the preceding year’s most distinguished picture book for children. The Carnegie Medals, a newcomer to our profession’s recognition of the best books, were first awarded in 2012 to celebrate excellence in fiction and non-fiction writing for adult readers.
We all know about the importance of reading and the impact of not learning to read by the conclusion of grade 3. We learn to read up to third grade and beyond third grade we read to learn. Our profession’s book award history, however, signals a widespread belief that is detrimental to not only libraries, authors, illustrators, and publishers but readers themselves. It implies that the books that are critical to shaping who we are, the ones that prepare us to be the best people that we can be, need to reach us before we enter junior high.
This notion parallels a notion about life that has only recently been debunked. In 1976 -- a revolutionary year if there ever was one -- Gail Sheehy published Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life. It hit the best-seller list immediately with the core message that growth doesn’t end upon high-school or college graduation, but consists of a predictable series of challenges and changes throughout a person’s lifespan -- passages. This message clearly resonated with a large audience and presaged such changes as the transition of four-year colleges from being available to only full-time, residential students to institutions that flexed to accommodate a growing number of part-time, working adults.
NoveList is supporting the Carnegie Medals because we believe that reading supports individuals in navigating the changes, challenges, and opportunities that are presented throughout our lifespan. Margaret Monroe, a champion of providing library services to adults that were designed to meet their unique needs, is an example of one library pioneer advocating for adults well before Ms. Sheehy published her work.
At NoveList, we believe that reading is the best and most creative response to the opportunities that life presents us. An imaginative response to life does not end in the third grade, nor at the conclusion of one’s formal education. If you are a reader it continues from conception to resurrection as the slogan of the lifelong learning movement states.
We are privileged to align ourselves with the recognition of not only the creative acts that these authors have achieved. We encourage you to join us in celebrating the creative and life-changing acts they have enabled in readers of all ages.
Duncan is co-founder and general manager of NoveList. He helps transform the lives of readers by leading a team that creates the tools library staff use to provide their most important service -- connecting readers with the books that will make a difference in their lives.