Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 19 through April 25, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2014 candidates for YALSA Award Committees.YALSA_173x79

This week we are focusing on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee, which honors the best book and up to four honor books written for teens, based entirely on literary merit, each year.

Candidates, who will be presented in alphabetical order, were asked to craft “Twitter-length” responses (i.e. around 140 characters). Full biographical information on all of the candidates can be found on the sample ballot.

Today we have an interview with Lalitha Nataraj.

Name and current position:‘ Lalitha Nataraj, Youth Services Librarian, Escondido Public Library

Why did you decide to run for a YALSA selection committee?

I’d be honored to serve on this committee and take part in recognizing books that embody the highest literary quality. I celebrate diversity in YA lit and am eager to add my voice to the Printz Award Committee mix.

In a nutshell, what will you bring to the committee?

In serving on the Amelia Bloomer Project & YALSA Quick Picks, I’ve learned to read without bias, think critically about the representation of diverse voices and experiences, and carefully apply evaluation criteria.

What experience do you have with materials selection and evaluation?

I’m responsible for children’s and teen materials selection at my library. I review books and apps for SLJ, served as a Cybils Awards judge, and blog about multicultural youth lit.

What makes you a good fit for this committee in particular?

My Amelia Bloomer Project service has provided me great experience with critically assessing literature. Literary discussions among passionate feminists will more than prepare you for heated Printz deliberations!

How do you plan to manage the reading load required by selection committee participation?

Prior committee experience has prepared me for intense reading; I like keeping detailed notes on each title and tracking books on spreadsheets. Too, my husband is supportive and I know he’ll help with our kids!

What have been some of your favorite past winners of this particular award?

Gene L. Yang’s American Born Chinese, and Honor books Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

What books should have won the award, but didn’t?

Printz deliberations can very passionate and all-consuming- decisions are not made lightly. I prefer to respect the choices made by previous committees.

What else do voters need to know about you?

In addition to reading kid/teen lit, I also love talking about it on social media. Come chat me up on Twitter: @librarian_lali. We can talk about cats, too.


This interview was cross-posted on The Hub and the YALSAblog.

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