2017 Youth Media Awards: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Kids excitedly celebrate the Newbery winner

It was just about three months ago.  Do you remember what happened then? What you were wearing?  What you were doing?  Well, we do at Castleton Elementary School.  Over 150 of us were gathered in our auditorium/gymnasium to watch the Youth Media Awards announcement live.  Doesn’t matter that it was another season ago, we still remember it well.

A child in pajamas celebrates the Youth Media AwardsFirst, Sibert.  I run a Sibert Smackdown (thanks to the mentorship of the amazing Melissa Stewart) with my fourth graders.  When Giant Squid won a Sibert honor, the boys who read and wished for it to win, squealed and leapt out of their seats.  Stay tuned, for you might even see a picture of them with their poster on Candace Fleming’s website.

Even though some of our favorite Geisel contenders didn’t win, we were excited for Go, Otto, Go to get an honor.  I’m already reading and sharing 2018 contenders with students.  This is a good time to put in a plug for the Holiday House: I Can Read books.  I have a little kindergartener who comes in every week searching for me to recommend books that “he can read”.  We pull out one of those and his smile makes me just leap with joy.

Samantha and Olivia were thrilled when Javaka Steptoe won the Caldecott award for his Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.  Fourth graders who were hoping it would get a Sibert shout out, had shared with their class that they loved the book for its illustrations. Today we have a signed poster in our library by Javaka that Little, Brown had given to me while ago. You can still hear kids whisper when they see it, “Look! It’s Radiant Child! That won the Caldecott!”

Two girls show their love for the book Radiant Child

I still cannot look at Sean without thinking about Freedom Over Me. As the only fifth grader to read the book for our Newbery Project (the book disappeared in his home for awhile), Sean raised his arms way up in the air and fist pumped when the book was announced for a Newbery honor.  No doubt in anyone’s mind that “Sean’s book won!”

A favorite all-time author was unearthed after Zackary read The Inquisitor’s Tale in a book group with two other boys and our district Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the helm.  Fortunately, we were able to revisit the passion for the book last month when the three boys presented at a local “Caldecott-Newbery Tea.”  Zackary purchased a copy of the book the week it won and has yet to dress the cover in silver.  I think he wants to remember that he loved the book before the rest of the world got hold of it.

Celebrating the book, The Inquisitor's Tale

And then there is Ashlyn.  Did you see the video of me nearly toppling her over when The Girl That Drank the Moon won? She in her footy pajamas (It was Pajama Day at school) and I unable to keep my feet on the ground or my voice lower than a 100 decibels.  When we shared our book trailers back in December, Ashlyn brought in moons (clementine slices) and moon drinks (oreos with mini straws in them). Although she isn’t the only one who was excited that day, Ashlyn was just the closest one to me.  I can still hear the screams today.

Yesterday three high school freshman were in the building performing with the band.  They had some time and chose to visit the library.  I remembered their favorite books from fifth grade (Remarkable, Temple Grandin and Love, Aubrey).  I pulled the books off the shelf, had them pose and leap and then sent them on their way.  I can already imagine Hayden, Ross, Samantha, Olivia, Zackary, Ashlyn and many others visiting in the future and pulling off the YMA17 winners for a photo op. My camera is ready.

(All pictures courtesy of guest blogger)


Today’s guest post was written by Stacey Rattner. Stacey’s — aka “The Leaping Librarian” — quest in life is to get the perfect book in the hands of all of her students at Castleton Elementary School in upstate New York.  Not only do her students love to read, but they also know that at a moment’s notice they will be asked to leap with her, a book and/or a visiting author/illustrator. Stacey collaborates with classroom teachers to run successful Mock Newbery, Mock Geisel and Sibert Smackdown projects every year. Check out her leaps at or on Twitter @staceybethr.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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

One comment

  1. Melissa Stewast

    What a lovely post. Those students are so lucky to have you!

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