Blogger Public Awareness Committee

Ten Ways to Publicize Notable Children’s Books

In her 2002 Newbery Award acceptance speech, Linda Sue Park recalled how her father, a Korean immigrant, regularly took her and her siblings to the library and helped them find books. As an adult, she had once asked how he chose the books. As she relayed his explanation in her speech, it brought tears to the eyes of librarians in the audience: “He left the room for a few moments,” she said, “and came back with a battered accordion file and handed it to me. Inside were dozens of publications listing recommended children’s books–brochures, flyers, pamphlets–and most of them were issued by ALA.”

As this moving story shows, booklists can be enormously helpful to parents and teachers, and even the kind of young reader who likes lists. Instead of being overwhelmed by all those books on the shelves, the library user has a guide with ideas from experts.

I’m a great fan of the ALSC lists, and particularly Notable Children’s Books. Many years ago I served on the committee so I know how much work and care goes into creating it. Yet do these annual lists reach as many young readers as we’d like, either directly or through parents and teachers? I’m confident we can spread the word about these books even further. Here are some ways to share the list online or in print:

Ten Ways to Publicize Notable Children’s Books

1. Use the power of social media to connect to ALSC’s online version of the list. You’ll find “share the page” buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Digg, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Addthis.

2. In the past, libraries could buy brochures of the list. Now you can print out the whole list or part of it at the ALSC website, and make it available as a good old-fashioned list on paper for library patrons. Or, if you want a list without annotations, I’ve created versions by age group that can be found here:

3. Create a bookmark with a link to the online list and an explanation of what it offers.

4. Make a book display of the Notables books or a bulletin board display. There’s a reason that publishers pay to have their books displayed at the front of bookstores: those are the books that catch people’s eye. Displays serve the same function in libraries. Have the lists or bookmarks there for patrons to take home.
Notable Seal

5. Put a Notables sticker on the books. ALA sells these along with other award stickers at the ALA Store. They can be used for the Notable books, recordings, videos, and software.

6. Talk about the Notables books! Booktalk the books formally in schools and informally to individual patrons. Share your enthusiasm. Remind parents about the lists at gift-giving times.

7. Make sure your local bookstore knows about the list. They might want to highlight recommendations from experts, too, with displays and lists.

8. Alert your local newspaper, freebie parenting magazine or local family radio program about the list and send them a copy or the link. To respect copyright, follow the simple directions at ALA’s Copyright Statement.

9. Create a Voki —- a free, talking avatar at —- to promote the booklist. You can view my Voki here.

10. Write a note or email to local teachers recommending 3-5 Notable titles that you think would be particularly enjoyed by their students. Handselling individual titles can go a long way.

More ideas means more sharing the message about Notables, so please add ideas of your own in the comments!

Kathleen Odean, a children’s librarian for 17 years, is the author of Great Books for Girls and Great Books for Babies and Toddlers, and chaired the 2002 Newbery Award Committee. She currently gives workshops for educators on new YA books. She is writing this post for the Public Awareness Committee. You can reach her at kathleen [at] kathleenodean [dot] com.

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