Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How social media led to more disappointment... and that's a good thing?

Just got back from ALA Midwinter, with one of the highlights being the announcement of the Youth Media Awards (for you laymen, the biggies are the Caldecott and Newbery Awards, and if that still doesn't make sense, it's like the Academy Awards for children's books).

Compare and contrast from watching the Grammy's the night before: the clothes were a little more sensible, there was less bleeping, but still a lot of heartfelt cheering and some varieties of hair color.

The experience was incredibly electric; how often have you experienced cheering and extreme suspense entirely related to books and reading? I was practically moved to tears when two of my personal favorites, Navigating Early (Printz Honor) and Rose under Fire (Schneider Family Honor) were recognized. When a book you adore receives an award, it validates your feelings.

All books, authors, and media received cheers, with a few getting added murmurs such as, "Honor-- I thought it would win". When it was over, the questions began: "What about Counting by 7's? Mr. Tiger Goes Wild? The Thing about Luck? True Blue Scouts? The Real Boy?"

Why does the disappointment perhaps seem so widespread?  I think it's because we share so much more with a wider range of people in many additional ways.  I read more of these books than ever before, partly because I knew I would be in Philadelphia, but also because of my involvement in the #titletalk chat, the Nerdy Book Club, the Heavy Medal and Fuse8 blogs from School Library Journal, Goodreads, listservs, and even a Facebook group, adbooks. In days past, I wouldn't see follow up posts and reactions from so many people, either.

Thinking back a day later, I've decided that in the long run, this is a good thing.  More people are devoted to more titles than ever before.  What's wrong with that?  More people were disappointed, because more people were involved. Every book someone loved could not win, because there are so many good books!

Ultimately, the most important step: convert this to enthusiasm among our students. Many teachers and school librarians have inaugurated mock awards groups, use edmodo or Biblionasium to offer safe social media opportunities, or create a community of readers within their classroom. It would be wonderful if all students could experience the thrill of the awards that we did on Monday.

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