Using the Cybils for Readers’ Advisory

I hope you are all aware that in a few days, on Valentine’s Day, the 2011 Cybils Award Winners will be announced!

However, did you know that the lists of Cybils Finalists, posted every New Year’s Day for the last 6 years, are a wonderful resource for Readers’ Advisory?

I know, I know, ALSC and YALSA have a full slate of youth media awards, and I definitely follow them avidly and spread the word about the winners and honor books.  But the Cybils, given by kidlit bloggers, have a different emphasis. 

First, the Cybils judges are trying for books with kid appeal.  They do want books with literary merit, but they must also believe that the books will appeal to kids.

But the big reason you can turn to the Cybils for Readers’ Advisory is because of the nature of the Finalists.  The first round of Cybils judging is done by panelists who choose the Finalists.  The panelists are not looking for one stand-out book and runners-up.  They are looking to build a list of outstanding books in that particular genre for the past year.

Because the panelists are working on making a list, they work for variety in terms of appeal, theme, protagonists’ gender, and so on.  For example, you won’t have a whole stack of Historical Novels with a Female Protagonist, as might happen with the Newbery.  (And that’s fine with the Newbery; it has a different purpose.)

One more reason the Cybils Finalists lists work well for Readers’ Advisory is the sheer number of categories.  There’s no overlap; right from the start the panelists make sure a book is only considered in one category.  But where else are you going to find a judged list of the best children’s Book Apps of the year?  As well as PoetryEarly Chapter Books?

Here are all the categories along with links to this year’s Finalists:

Book Apps

Easy Readers & Early Chapter Books

Fantasy & Science Fiction (Middle Grade)

Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult)

Fiction Picture Books

Graphic Novels

Middle Grade Fiction

Nonfiction for Middle Grade & Young Adult

Nonfiction Picture Books


Young Adult Fiction

Next time a 2nd-grade kid comes into your library with an assignment to “read an Award Winner,” and your go-to Caldecott or Newbery books are checked out, think about showing him a Cybils Early Chapter Book Finalist.  Or maybe a Nonfiction Picture Book Finalist.  Going to these lists can expand your options and give you good ideas.

And be sure to check on Tuesday at to see which books win!

Our guest blogger today is Sondra Eklund, a librarian at Fairfax County Public Library, and a member of the ALSC Children and Technology committee.  She’s been writing book reviews at Sonderbooks since 2001, before she’d heard of blogs.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


  1. Debra Marshall

    Great post, Sondy. I will be following the announcements. I am all about kid choice as a consideration for collection development.

  2. Anne

    Wow, thanks so much for the kind words about Cybils. I’m so happy to see our finalist lists are helpful to you. That’s hugely flattering!

  3. Terry Doherty

    Wow, Sondy. What an eloquent way to capture the spirit of the awards, the passion that goes into the process, and their value to readers (and book mentors) across genre, age, and ability!

    Very cool.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *