Meet your Margaret A. Edwards Award 2009 Candidates!

Carrie Bryniak, Steve Crowley, Kristine Mahood, Diane Monnier, Sharon Rawlins, and Stephanie Squicciarini are asking for your consideration as they run this spring for the 2009 Edwards Award committee.

Chairing the 2006 MAE honoring Jacqueline Woodson was one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve had in YALSA. Let’s ask our candidates a few questions so we can get to know them better!

What interested in you running for the Edwards Award committee?

What do you feel is the value to teens of an award that honors an author for titles that aren’t “new”?

How can YALSA give prominence to this prestigious award, especially outside the association?

Thanks for giving us your thoughts…

posted by Mary Arnold

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4 Comments

  1. Stephanie A Squicciarini [Visitor]

    What interested in you running for the Edwards Award committee?
    I know it is kinda cliche to say that it was an honor to just have been asked to consider running…but it is a very true cliche! I became a Librarian after many years in retail management and was convinced I was just going to lay low and do only that which was expected of me. Well…I guess that is just not in my nature as I find myself active beyond at least my expectation in YALSA and loving it! To be around books that speak to the heart of that which makes us human…the intensity and feeling with which some authors and books quite literally change lives is, simply put, spectacular. And to be a part of a committee that helps celebrate that…to celebrate the contribution that an author has made to the field of YA literature…would be amazing. And to work with others who have a similar passion will be, I have no doubt, life changing in and of itself. So I guess my answer as to what interested me in running would be that I could not imagine not running for the committee! The celebration of Margaret Edwards and the authors that will be honored in her memory is at the heart of what we do as YA librarians. And it would be both a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of that celebration.

    What do you feel is the value to teens of an award that honors an author for titles that aren’t “new”?
    It is important, I think, to celebrate not just the new, but also the history that brought us to the new. The value lies in that history – knowing where YA literature has been so that we can make way for what is to be. Giving teens a sense of their place in that history and sharing with them how the world has changed is vital for their succeeding in that world. Where would any of us, as YA Librarians, be were it not for the authors that created a strong and impressive foundation in YA literature? YALSA is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and I believe that we have reached 50 years in part because of the impact of the literature that lay and built upon such solid and again, life changing, groundwork. It is not just about the hot new title, but also about the titles that stay with us over time – long after the last page is read and the book returned to the shelf. It is about the characters that seep into our souls whether we are comfortable with them being there or not. And a true test of a book is how long that book stays with us.

    How can YALSA give prominence to this prestigious award, especially outside the association?
    To say that YALSA needs name and brand recognition perhaps goes without saying. It is important for each member of YALSA to share the prominence of all of our YALSA awards. Spreading the word about just how important the recognition that a select few receive. We each hold this responsibility as part of being advocates for our teens. Sharing the titles and authors selected to be recognized with partner associations that serve teens is vital. Creating grant opportunities for not just YALSA members, but other organizations that could benefit from the power of YA literature…partnering with these organizations to spread that power. YA literature has taken quite a media beating over the past couple of years. And it can surely take it! By answering the questions posed by the media using these awards we spread the work done by, for, and on behalf of YALSA. Sharing the impact that authors and books have on their readers, demonstrating the value that the award bestows, and celebrating its namesake will all help in reaching the level of prominence it so deserves.

  2. cbryniak [Member]

    Hello all…

    Let me take a few moments and answer the questions that were put forth to the candidates for the 2009 Margaret Edwards Committee.

    What interested you in running for the Edwards Award Committee?

    I was excited by the prospect of participating on a committee that has the chance to honor a YA author for a lifetime contribution to YA literature through their body of work. I love reading YA novels and certain authors have meant so much to me that I wanted the chance to help honor a hardworking, deserving author whose books can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s important to me that while we have a focus on programming for young adults that we don’t forget the wide body of literature that is available to them. There’s nothing more relaxing and comforting than curling up with an award-winning favorite novel.

    In the past I have also been involved on the state level with another book selection committee, Great Books for Teens. I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions & discussions with the committee during the selection process. I am accustomed to the large amounts of time and dedication that the project requires. As such, I look forward to working with my peers on the Edwards Committee if I am elected. I hope there will be many exciting and deep discussions about the authors’ work. I also wanted the chance to give back to my profession by sharing my time and talents with the Committee.

    What do you feel is the value to teens of an award that honors an author for titles that aren’t “new”?

    I think there is inherent value in having a body of work available to recommend to a teen patron looking for something to read. In my observations teens tend to latch on to a favorite author and read the entire body of work available when the mood strikes them. What could be better for them than an author who has been recognized for contributions to YA literature that addresses an ongoing struggle during adolescence concering a teen’s role & importance in the world, its relationships etc.

    This body of “old” work also presents numerous opportunities for book discussions and comparisons between newer authors, other award winners and between titles by the same author. There is an overall quality to the author’s work that one can rely on. Another thing that comes to mind is that newer authors might refer back to some of the “older” authors’ work or be inspired themselves by that work, there is value in that.

    Finally, it’s always nice to have that “old” favorite to fall back on. Teens can rest assured that their award winning authors will be the core of a YA collection in their library.

    How can YALSA give prominence to this prestigious award, especially outside the association?

    Well, a lot of the prominence for awards comes from good PR. If you have the right advertising, in the right formats, anything is possible. Be an advocate, promote the literature when you have a chance. That being said, I would look at ways of advertising the award in all types of professional journals, not just ones related to the library field. Educational journals might be one way of doing this.

    The award does have a spot on the YALSA MySpace page, but perhaps something more prominent than just the small blurb? Perhaps dedicating a whole MySpace page to the different YALSA book awards could be considered. I was also thinking that promoting the award with different magazines that teens are interested in might be a good way to get the word out to teens about the award. For that matter, and perhaps this would be logistically impossible, what about having a teen as part of the selection committee? That would lend the choice a bit of teen buy in perhaps?

    Two last thoughts on the topic would be as follows: create a roving display about the award and its titles that could travel to different libraries around the country. The display could be loaned to different library systems for a set amount of time and having it right out in a library for the public to see could promote the prominence of the award. The last thought, why not create some kind of writing contest for teens around the award. The teens could write about what that author’s literature meant to them and perhaps the winning teen could have the author visit their school or win copies of the author’s titles for the school?

  3. Sharon Rawlins [Visitor]

    What interested you in running for the Edwards Award Committee?

    I have sat in the audience for the past four or so years at ALA conferences with hundreds of other librarians, waiting with bated breath for our Academy Award winners to be announced. As the winners are read the audience goes wild. It is such a thrill to be a part of that atmosphere. I realized I would love to be a part of this amazing experience to get the opportunity to work with other passionate, dedicated, and insightful librarians all striving to select an author that we all feel is an icon in the field of YA literature. All of the previous Edwards winners are exceptional and some of my favorite authors. I served on the BBYA committee from 2003-2007 and found that it was so rewarding and addictive. If I were elected to the committee, I would be very honored to serve with an outstanding group of librarians to help select an author whose work epitomizes the best in YA literature that speaks to the teen experience.

    What do you feel is the value to teens of an award that honors an author for titles that aren’t “new”?

    It is very difficult posting after reading the beautifully articulate comments made by Stephanie and Carrie!
    Teens, like readers of all ages, like reading what is new and different but find security in older books. When I am in need of comfort, I find myself re-reading the same books over and over and they are usually ones I read years ago. I think teens are the same way. Many teens have told me their favorite book is The Outsiders. They identify with the characters and their conflicts and
    do not care when it was written. That is the true test of an enduring work of teen literature. While I was on the BBYA committee, I read hundreds of new books and noticed how many of them owed a debt to older books, many of them written by Edwards winners. Teens need to be aware of these older books, many of them groundbreaking at the time of their publication, so they will have a basis of comparison to newer books. In discussing censorship issues and banned books, it is worth discussing many of the Edwards winners and their books since so many of their books have appeared on the lists. For more practical purposes, exposing teens to older titles written by Edwards Award winners really helps with readers advisory. When the teens say they like a certain book and want another one like it, you can steer them to these older titles.

    How can YALSA give prominence to this prestigious award, especially outside the association?

    Publicity is the key to promoting the Edwards award outside YALSA. Teens need to be invested in promoting the award and the best way to get them interested is by advertising the award in places that they might see it. I am an optimist and I do not know if any of these suggestions can be easily implemented but you never know.
    In addition to promoting it on YALSA’s MySpace, it might be advertised in short ads on cable channels popular with teens. Maybe the Edwards award author or a celebrity popular with teens could do the ad. ALA’s Read posters are popular and if you had a personality popular with teens hold titles by Edwards award winners, it might really attract the teens to these titles. There are popular bands like Harry and the Potters and Bloodhag that promote literature and reading in their performances. Perhaps they could work with YALSA to promote Edwards award winners. YALSA might be able to do tie-ins with Blockbuster and Fandango to advertise Edwards award winning titles that have been made into films. Teens love contests so having a video contest to promote the Edwards award on YouTube might attract attention to the award. Many communities select a title that everyone reads, One Book, One Community, etc. and many of the Edwards award books would lend themselves well to that. The most important thing to do is get the teens involved so the ideal solution would be to ask them for their ideas for how to promote the award among them.

  4. What interested you in running for the Edwards Award committee?

    What draws me first to the Margaret Edwards Award Committee is my interest in promoting those writers whose themes have remained connected to teens’ lives. It is easy to reach for stereotypes, assumptions, and brand names. It is truer to look for, find, and write from inside teens’ hearts. The second quality that appeals to me is excellent writing: clear, strong, imaginative, resonant, and true to its own style. The third quality of writers I value is their unquenched curiosity and creativity, which drives them to explore new themes and new forms of expression. By “new” I mean classic (such as novels written as retold fairy tales or myths) as well as contemporary (such as novels written in electronic format). I’d written out my comments before reading other candidates’ comments, and now I have a fourth reason for running for the committee: what a brace of thoughtful, eloquent, and fun-loving librarians!

    What do you feel is the value to teens of an award that honors an author for titles that aren’t “new?”

    As has been said many times, every book is new to someone who reads it for the first time. Teens who discover authors they like will often plunge into reading everything by that author. The value to teens of reading books by award-winning writers is that they can connect with books that integrate contemporary issues and settings with longstanding themes of teen life, in strong, beautiful, evocative writing. Teens know when someone is speaking to them direct and true and without pretense or assumptions. They also recognize and appreciate good writing. I also see value for teens in their seeing how, with dedication and commitment, authors–and artists, and people–can continue to grow and flower long past their first flash of brilliance.

    How can YALSA give prominence to this prestigious award, especially outside the association?

    YALSA can give prominence to writers who have won the Margaret Edwards Award by working with YALSA members and with members of other ALA divisions. Inside their libraries, YALSA members can be encouraged to include award-winning authors in booktalk presentations to middle and high schools and also to adult groups, in booklists, as highlights on the teen web page and on the library’s main page, as highlights in PSAs on local radio and TV, in teen book discussion groups, and as prizes at teen programs. They can create displays of not only award-winning YA books, but also of award-winning books for all readers, youth and adult. Working with other ALA divisions, such as LAMA, PLA, and RUSA, YALSA could persuade libraries to include Edwards award-winning books in their one-library-one-book programs. These books could also be promoted as choices for adult book discussion groups. These groups generally focus on literary fiction, traditional classics, and contemporary classics. The writers who have won the Edwards award are creating contemporary classics, for teens, and for all readers.

    Thank you!!

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