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 Candace Reeder.

Name and current position
Candace L. Reeder, Head of Adult and Teen Services. Northport-East Northport Public Library

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the selection committee with selection, evaluation, and working as part of a team.
For over 20 years I have been responsible for ordering and reviewing fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels and a/v for the children and teens in our community. I also train our staff members in collection development and maintenance. I have participated in several YALSA book and award committees including the 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults committee and the 2015 Morris YA Debut Award committee. I enjoy the teamwork, the discussions and the difficult decisions that are a part of these groups. I am a critical reader with a strong interest in nonfiction and I have learned how to objectively evaluate materials and find the best books for our teens.

What role do you think books can play in addressing some of the issues that negatively impact the lives of teens?
A book can be a powerful tool in helping teens share difficult experiences and realize that they are not alone. They can learn coping strategies through literature that will help in their own lives. Books can also provide an opportunity to open the eyes of teens not normally involved in these issues. Reading teen literature will also offer an avenue of escapism from the everyday problems that our young people face. Our book committees can pinpoint books of substance that will meet the needs of these students.

What are some ways award-winning titles can provide teens with a more expanded view of literacy?
We need to find books that are well-written, relevant, diverse and thought-provoking. Literacy is more than just the ability to read and write. We also need books that take students out of their comfort zone and introduce them to quality literature that will engage and excite them. Recent Excellence in Nonfiction Award winners and nominees have done just that. Books like They Call Themselves the KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and Bomb by Steve Sheinkin transform important time periods in history into riveting narratives with excellent writing, research and presentation. Great books like these empower teens to embrace reading.

Describe a time when you’ve advocated for books to be more influential in connected-learning spaces.
I advocated for separate graphic novel collections in the adult and teen sections of our library. Graphic novels can be a gateway for many students into other forms of literature. The collections have become so popular that we have invited prominent graphic novelists, such as George O’Connor, to our library to speak to local students. Connected learning works best when teens find others with shared interests. Because of this we have also formed a very successful fandom group that meets monthly where the teens discuss their favorite manga and anime works, view films and create related artwork.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of this selection committee?
I bring many years of practical experience in working with teens to my committee work. I am a huge proponent of young adult literature and I want to see the very best in fiction and nonfiction for teens recognized. I am able to read quickly and organize my time to do the additional work that these committees demand. Award committees often highlight a book that young adults would not find on their own. I would be proud to help discover the best in nonfiction books that will continue to inspire and encourage teens to read.

Talk about a time when someone shared with you how a book written for teens influenced them.
I recently served on the Morris Award committee and I was excited to share the 2015 winner, Gabi, a Girl in Pieces with some of the teens in my community. I recommended the book to a student who often comes into our library to do homework. She approached me some time later and said she had never read a book that so closely resembled her life. The family dynamics and problems, the body-image issues and the cultural aspects of the novel all rang true. She now frequently asks for more reading suggestions and encourages her friends to come to the library after school.

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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