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 Nonfiction Award. Members on this committee serve a twelve month term. The committee consists of nine members including a chair. Four members and the chair are appointed and the remaining four members will be elected by the membership of YALSA.

The Nonfiction Award committee’s primary job is to select the best nonfiction title published for young adults between Nov. 1 and Oct. 31 of the current year. 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 Jan Chapman.

Name and current positions:
Jan Chapman, Teen Librarian, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Strongsville Branch

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the selection committee with selection, evaluation, and working as part of a team.
I have served on two YALSA selection committees: the 2005 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and the 2011 Michael Printz Award. I also served on the Ohio Library Council’s James Cook Book award—an award that I helped inaugurate. I believe very strongly in the importance of literary quality, even in popular titles. I enjoy working with others to select books and although I can be a passionate advocate of titles that I love, I also understand the importance of listening to other opinions.

What role do you think books can play in addressing some of the issues that negatively impact the lives of teens?
First and foremost, books assure teens that they are not alone in their struggles. Books also give hope that there is a solution for problems, perhaps not a perfect one, but resolution can be found, and with it, some measure of peace.

What are some ways award-winning titles can provide teens with a more expanded view of literacy?
An award-winning book demonstrates to teens that storytelling can be more than merely relating a good story. Storytelling can be poetry, with images and words that linger in the mind. Storytelling can wind complex strands of stories together skillfully. Storytelling can be transformative, illuminating the complexity of human nature. Storytelling can heal, assuring the reader that they are not alone. A high degree of literary quality in books allows this kind of magic to happen and helps teens become more sophisticated in their reading selections.

Describe a time when you’ve advocated for books to be more influential in connected-learning spaces.
As a member of a connected learning project at my library, I have always made sure to link a connected learning program to a book. Book displays are at every connected learning program that I offer. I consider connected learning programs to be a way of introducing teens to a subject and then prompting them to learn more by reading.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of this selection committee?
I believe that I have the passion and experience to be a effective committee member. I am very encouraged to see the move towards higher literary quality in teen non-fiction and I think that this is just the beginning of that movement. Wonderful non-fiction authors like Steve Sheinkin and Marc Aronson (to name a few) need the encouragement and support of librarians to keep that quality high. Awards do a great job of accomplishing this goal.

Talk about a time when someone shared with you how a book written for teens influenced them.
One of my favorite non-fiction titles is “Bomb,” by Steve Sheinkin. I decided to use it in a high school book discussion that I lead. One of the students, at the discussion, told me that he used to think that World War II history was dry as dust and really boring. But Sheinkin’s skillful and exciting presentation of this subject made it come alive for this reader. He particularly loved the espionage stories. He probably learned more about the story of the development of the atomic bomb from that book than from any other textbook he had read. That is the power of high quality non-fiction for teens.

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.

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