Bill Morris Seminar at #alamw18

On Friday during ALA Midwinter, I had the privilege of attending the 2018 Bill Morris Seminar. Here a cohort of ALSC members were trained by the masters in book discussion and book evaluation.

As I prepare to better myself as a gatekeeper of books and to truly place quality materials into children’s hands, here are five of my top takeaways:

  1. When evaluating books, leave your “at-home” stories there. Focus on information pertaining to the quality of the book, that will truly help the conversation move forward.
  2. Every committee is different and an award decision is truly based on the committees decision. A decision is based on the process of a large number of people (can go from 8-15). The committee is stronger together because committees are comprised of a multiple of background, world views and personalities.
  3. I heard the line, “trust the process,” many many times– there is an integrity to book evaluation and book awards and the organizations and committee members strive to uphold this integrity.
  4. If you want to be on a book evaluation committee, work to improve yourself as an evaluator of books. Write reviews, participate in book discussions, book talk with your coworkers, neighbors, friend, grandparents! Practice helps (but nothing is perfect!)
  5. Everyone has different strategies, find the strategy that works for you while reading, taking notes and evaluating literature. It does not have to be the same as everyone else.


The Bill Morris Seminar was an amazing experience and I encourage everyone to apply for it when the time comes. Going into the Youth Media Awards tomorrow, I encourage you to remember what a time-consuming and laborious task committee work is. I am excited to see what the committees come up with and to revisit the winners to learn why (and to of course become a better book evaluator myself).

I hope you are too!


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