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 Jonathan Hunt.

Name and current position
Jonathan Hunt, Coordinator of Library Media Services, San Diego County Office of Education

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the selection committee with selection, evaluation, and working as part of a team.
I teach at San Jose State University, review for Horn Book Magazine, blog for School Library Journal, and present seminars for the Bureau of Education & Research. I’ve also served on numerous award committees as well as process and selection committees for both ALSC and YALSA.

What role do you think books can play in addressing some of the issues that negatively impact the lives of teens?
Books can serve as an escape from reality, and I think that function of literature should not be devalued. But it can also confront that reality and shape the way teens think about themselves and the world.

What are some ways award-winning titles can provide teens with a more expanded view of literacy?
Collectively, award-winning books should allow every reader to be represented in some way, whether it reflects their tastes in reading or important components of their identities.
Describe a time when you’ve advocated for books to be more influential in connected-learning spaces.

With money flowing back into California school libraries again, it seems that I find myself constantly advocating for the money to be spent on books rather than technology!

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of this selection committee?
With so many worthy authors to choose from, I would be honored to be on the 2016 Edwards committee. It would be a career highlight for me.

Talk about a time when someone shared with you how a book written for teens influenced them.
I love sharing contemporary YA literature with people because they are often surprised at how much the field has matured since it’s problem novel origins.

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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