Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Slice of Life: ALA YMA Musings

 I have a long history of anticipating the ALA Youth Media Awards. I've been watching them live for many years. My happiest times occurred when I watched them with students who had read Newbery possibilities.

This year I sad to report that I haven't read the Newbery winner or any of the Honor books. I checked out Fighting Words and When You Trap a Tiger from the library, but they were both returned to the library unread. My daughter read When You Trap a Tiger and recommended it to me.  Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford is the only Newbery book that was completely off my radar. I own and shared Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad (2007) with my students, so I'm looking forward to reading this new retelling of the same story.

This year's presentation was devoid of the crowd responses and the presenters must have been coached on how to deliver their awards without being emotionally involved with any of the titles. I missed that this year! The rapid-fire, no-nonsense style of delivering the awards left me no time to request titles from the library during the awards. It was all I could do to stay up with recording titles as they were announced. I know the award lists are posted quickly, but I like recording them in my notebook. As soon as the awards ceremony ended, I headed to the KCLS site to request titles.

Here are the books I read that received award love yesterday:

  • When Stars Are Scattered
  • King of the Dragonflies
  • Before the Ever After
  • Efren Divided
  • The Bear in My Family
  • What About Worms!?
  • A Place Inside of Me
  • The Cat Man of Aleppo
  • Outside In
I still remember the year that Wonder was the winner of our class Mock Newbery, yet it did not receive any award love! This year I was disappointed that my favorite middle grade read of 2020, Echo Mountain, did not receive any recognition. I also loved Skunk and Badger. Leave a comment about your favorite reads of 2020, especially those that may not have received award love yesterday.


  1. Thank you for this list! I have gotten away from reading the awards books. What a nice way for me to start with recommendations from a friend.

  2. Ramona,

    Though I remember being very excited and intrigued about Newbery books as a little girl (and library fanatic), it's been years since the term elicited such enthusiasm for me. Nevertheless, your anticipation and affection spilled off of my screen - and I lived vicariously through your moment, remembering when the coveted seal was an invitation to my personal selection!

    Given your literacy love, I feel compelled to at least try again by reading something from your list! The fear lingering in the back of my mind is, "When will you have time?" And that's a question I can't answer; but, it won't stop me from trying!

    Thank you for rekindling my curiosity. A girl can never have too many books. Stories elicit the adventures of a life time. Thanks so much for sharing.

    ~Carla Michelle

  3. Isn't it so special when you've read one of the books that wins an award? It's like you've been cheering without knowing. I watch the awards every year that it's possible. And, because of the pandemic, I could this year. While I miss the applause, the joy over kidlit is something I appreciate so very, very much. Glad to see you celebrating too.

  4. I missed the audience this year too. It jsut wasn't the same, but much is right now. I did read When You Trap a Tiger after Christie Rush-Levine recommended it to me. I used some figurative language examples when I taught that. When we watched the awards with my class, I had several that said, "Hey wasn't the book you used in that lesson?" They had remembered! I also read Fighting Words, but those were the only two winners for me. But many new ones added to my list now!