Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 15 through April 22, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2016 YALSA Governance and 2018 Selection Committee candidates.

Today we’ll hear from a candidate for the 2018 Edwards Award. Members on this committee serve an eighteenth month term. The committee consists of six virtual members of which three are elected.

The Edwards Award committee’s primary job is to select a living author or co-author whose book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young people as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives. A full description of the committee’s duties and responsibilities can be found here.

Full biographical information on all of the candidates can be found on the sample ballot and YALSA Election FAQs here.

Today we have an interview with Kim Herrington.

Name and current position
Kim Herrington. Librarian at Robert Turner College & Career High School in Pearland, Texas

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the selection committee with selection, evaluation, and working as part of a team.
As a school librarian, I am the final decision maker for selecting materials for the library, but I always seek recommendations from teachers and students. I am currently in my second year at a school that didn’t have a certified librarian the first year it was open. I spent much of last year figuring out the unique needs of a high school library that serves a community that is truly focused on college and career. I am working with teachers and students to determine how to best serve all students, those on a college pathway and those on a vocational pathway.

My years on the Alex Award Committee taught me a great deal about selection and evaluation. Because of the volume of books that I had to evaluate in a relatively short amount of time, I had to learn to put books aside as soon as I knew they did not meet the criteria for the award even if I was really enjoying the book. I also had to really learn to read and evaluate from the teen’s perspective and keep reading even when adult Kim wasn’t really enjoying the book.

Teen Book Con is an annual book festival where last year over 2000 teen readers had the opportunity to meet over 25 young adult authors. Being a part of the committee that plans and puts on this event has helped me to be an even better team player. This event could never happen if everyone wasn’t working together.

As an English teacher, I was part of curriculum writing committees as well as a variety of campus committees. Team work has been very important to my career as a teacher and a librarian.

What role do you think books can play in addressing some of the issues that negatively impact the lives of teens?
Both fiction and nonfiction books can be important tools to help teens learn about and deal with difficult situations. Fiction can often speak truth better than nonfiction. It allows teens to experience a situation that they might not be able to physically or emotionally handle in real life, giving them an opportunity to experience it in a safe space (the book/their imagination) and letting them learn from that experience. On the other hand, nonfiction can give them some needed distance to better analyze a situation. By teaching more direct lessons, nonfiction allows teens to learn about difficult situations and options available for dealing with them without the emotional involvement of fiction.

What are some ways award-winning titles can provide teens with a more expanded view of literacy?
Being open to selecting non-traditional texts, such as graphic novels, might help teens to expand their view of literacy. Teens, like so many adults, still think of literacy simply as reading and writing traditional forms of texts. Many people do not understand that reading a graphic novel or listening to an audiobook requires a different kind of literacy. Selecting non-traditional texts for an award such as this might give that kind of writing the respect it needs to get in the hands of even more teens especially if it helps to make teachers, librarians, and parents more accepting of those kinds of texts. Awards do sometimes give winners more legitimacy than they might have otherwise.

Describe a time when you’ve advocated for books to be more influential in connected-learning spaces.
I am in the second year at a new school (third year) that is doing connected learning on a big scale. The library’s opening collection consisted mainly of ebooks, mostly nonfiction thought to be connected to the career pathways available at the school, and a random collection of fiction books, too many of which were old, uncirculating books from other high schools in the district as well as adult books donated by teachers and parents. I am currently working through the 1000+ nonfiction ebooks to discover which career pathways, if any each one relates to. I am creating resource lists for the instructors and students in each pathway as well as discovering which pathways need additional resources. Before the end of the school year, I should be able to present my findings to the instructors for their evaluation and input as to the best way to promote these resources to their students.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of this selection committee?
I will work hard and read widely. I will not be afraid to fight for authors/books that I believe are worthy of this award. Perhaps because of my background as an English teacher, I know how important it is for books to have a lasting impact on readers. I love it when teens “discover” authors and books that were first popular some years ago. I think it would be very exciting to be a part of a committee that selects those kinds of books and gets them in the hands of new readers by giving them this award.

Talk about a time when someone shared with you how a book written for teens influenced them.
Even though I only heard about this second hand, it is one of the highlights of last school year.

Last fall, I read and fell in love with Jason Reynolds’ When I Was the Greatest. I shared my love of the book with a teacher friend at another campus. She, in turn, wanted to share it with students in a class made up of mostly boys who were not expected to pass the state reading test—struggling readers, resistant readers, dormant readers: all these labels apply. Because the campus only had one copy of the book, I suggested that she do a read aloud. Before she finished reading the book to her students, she sent me an email saying that I had “started a movement.” Several of the boys were lobbying her to convince the other reading teachers to make the book required reading for their students as well as trying to convince her to let them take the book home to finish on their own. One of the boys told her that he had never read a whole book by himself. Before he told her this, he had already gone to the library to put the book on hold, so he could read it again, this time by himself. Even though I was not the one to actually share the book with this student, I feel like this newfound love of a book, which hopefully has lead to a love of more books, might not have happened if I hadn’t shared the book with his teacher.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation