Newbery Books discussion

Newbery lists at Listopia

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message 1: by Luann (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 26 comments Someone has started a fun Newbery-themed list at Listopia called The Most Deserving Newbery. Which one do you think is the most deserving? I had a hard time choosing, but finally settled on The Giver by Lois Lowry as my top pick.

There is also a list for 2009 Newbery Contenders. Fun!

message 2: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 9 comments It would be Walk Two Moons for me. It's one of the best books ever written, in my opinion. I did LOVE The Giver, though. Holes would be at the top, too.

I was thinking about starting a thread about the LEAST deserving Newbery books since I have been so disappointed these last few years.

message 3: by Wendy (new)

Wendy | 41 comments Now that I've read 50 (and counting) of the 86, I have some strong opinions about my least favorites... and the ones I think are least deserving, which aren't necessarily the same. (Like, I didn't like The High King, but I know that's just because I don't care for that genre... I'm sure it's a well-written book.)

message 4: by Luann (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 26 comments You could also start a list for that at Listopia, Melissa! :) And when you do, post the link here so we can all vote.

message 5: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 9 comments I'll try to start a list there today!

I think what bothers me the most about so many of the recent Newbery/Newbery honor books is that many are way, WAY too mature for younger readers. For instance, I would never let a fifth grader read Corner of the Universe or The House of the Scorpion! And I would REALLY hesitate to hand a kid Kira Kira, Higher Power of Lucky, Olive's Ocean, Elijah of Buxton, Criss Cross, or Al Capone. The language, sexual references, and mature situations just aren't appropriate for 10 year olds. (I do recommend the Giver to students in my class but they have to get an okay from Mom and Dad. It's such a good book.)

Maybe I'm just a prude. But I've long thought that there should be a third book award for books geared toward 8 to 12 year olds, beyond Caldecott and Newbery.

message 6: by Wendy (last edited Aug 10, 2008 03:05PM) (new)

Wendy | 41 comments Huh? I haven't read (and/or don't remember) all the books you mention, but I did read both LUCKY and OLIVE'S OCEAN recently, and didn't think there was anything too mature in either... nothing ten-year-olds couldn't handle.

But in no way is the Newbery supposed to be a sign that reads "Totally unobjectionable for readers of all ages!" The ALA still expects parents, teachers, and librarians to use their judgment when recommending books for individual children. If the Newbery was only given to books that are suited to the average 10-year-old reader, it wouldn't be a very interesting or dynamic list.

I don't think it's a recent trend, either, for "mature" books to be selected, as you imply--look at THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, which is scary and sophisticated, or SOUNDER, which I just read and thought was terribly sad.

You list THE GIVER, HOLES, and WALK TWO MOONS as favorites--do you give HOLES to the kids in your class? I know you say you get parental permission for THE GIVER. How and where do you draw the line? Do you think WALK TWO MOONS is more acceptable for younger readers than OLIVE'S OCEAN?

message 7: by Melissa (last edited Aug 13, 2008 08:54AM) (new)

Melissa | 9 comments Yes, I do think Walk Two Moons is acceptable, but I recommend it only to students who would appreciate and understand its depth and meaning. The same is true for Holes.

About Olive's Ocean... There were several parts of the book that made me uncomfortable, including one scene where Olive and her brother discuss that their parents are late to breakfast because they are upstairs, "doing it." To me, that's not appropriate for 10 year olds. I guess I just feel that it's not needed. Why put something like that in a kids' book? It's just not necessary. I also thought the scene of the child being hit by the car was disturbing.

Another example... I thought Al Capone was a great book, but the the story is about a young boy who lives with his family on Alcatraz Island. He is worried that his mentally retarded sister may have become pregnant from an inmate on the island. It's a funny book with good lessons about family, but I just couldn't hand it to a ten year old.

Maybe I'm just super-over protective of my students because I would never want an upset parent coming to me and saying, "You recommended this book?" I try to put myself in the parent's place about what is acceptable and what I'd want MY child reading.

message 8: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
I think this is one of the hardest parts of caring about children's literature these days. My niece cam home from kindergarten where the kids have talked about "doing it". I have a hard time deciding if the standards of what my mind and imagination could handle as a 10 year old are the same standards that apply today. I think kids are already exposed to it. So is it a big deal if they read it? Or should we limit it? I think it's a gray area that is totally situational to the kids and each book. I personally would give Al Capone to a 10 year old. But there are probably some I would limit.

I do just have to ask what about The Giver requires a parent's permission slip?

message 9: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
p.s. and don't worry about those 8-12 year olds, their parents are already letting them read Twilight!

message 10: by Melissa (last edited Aug 13, 2008 08:56AM) (new)

Melissa | 9 comments Oh my gosh, I know!

And I know that you and Wendy are right... kids these days are exposed to WAY more than they used to be. Also, I think a lot of it goes right over their heads.

I just worry that because a book has a gold Newbery sticker on it, parents especially are handing it to their child without knowing there might be inappropriate or disturbing content. I noticed that several years ago, the National Book Awards added a middle of the road category to their award system. Now they have three levels of awards instead of two. I guess I wish Newbery would do the same.

But I know that Wendy's comment is true. If we limited Newberys too much, we wouldn't have a very diverse list of books.

Have you read Elijah of Buxton? I'm wondering what you thought of it.

message 11: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 14 comments Kids are exposed to all kinds of crap on TV in both shows and ads which they soak in without thought. Giving them good literature that makes them think is a mitzvah--an honor and a blessing. Reading WITH them and discussing literature would be an even greater gift.

message 12: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 66 comments There is a range of Newberys and I think some confusion about the target audience. They are generally excellent books, but I know what you mean about some being older than others. Some of them seem more appropriate for YA level. I think the best books can be enjoyed by both children and adults perhaps on different levels--that's why we all like reading Newburys, right?

I am protective of what I let my kids watch or read and I think that is my job as a good parent. Luckily I love to read, so I know what they are reading. It's so fun to be able to discuss books with my 11 year old son now because he reads on a level that we both enjoy. Kids are exposed to all sorts of things these days that they shouldn't be. Grown-ups are, too! My family pretty much just doesn't watch TV--not much worth watching anymore. We get videos from the library or watch some PBS. I will continue to guard my home from bad influences and guide my children towards positive choices as much as I reasonably can. I do my best to teach them so they can make their own good choices, too. I agree that good literature is a blessing. It makes us think and feel and expands our world, as well as being fun! I love to read and discuss books with my children.

I'm so glad that Melissa is thoughtful and protective of her students and sends home permission slips. What a good teacher! As a parent, I really appreciate that. It's too bad that we can't always trust ratings on movies, games or books. High schools regularly show rated R movies and some books on their reading lists are "rated R" level, too! Even in elementary school, I appreciate teachers letting parents know what they will be showing or reading. I actually had trouble with a new third grade teacher about the inappropriate movies she wanted to show my son's class! But we can be personally involved enough to make wise choices for ourselves and our families, and help influence our community in positive ways, too.

message 13: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 25 comments Mod
I like The Giver a lot. But I LOVE Number The Stars. Even among Lowry's works, I find the real (though dystopian) WWII story much more moving than the sci-fi dystopian future. And I love the real, historical story of Norway managing to get almost all its Jews safely out of the country. Now THAT seems like fiction!

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