Shelf of Shame
Is there a Newbery book that you’re ashamed to admit that you haven’t read yet? Perhaps one that is considered a classic? That everyone else seems to have read but you? Don’t we all have these books on our own personal shelf of shame? Now some of you are more ambitious about your goals, like Colby Sharp and John Schu with their Newbery Challenge to read all the Medal winners, but for those of you with more modest ambitions here’s a smaller one. Pick one author and read all of their Newbery books (Medal and/or Honor).
I actually gave myself this challenge last year and picked Virginia Hamilton. I had read a couple of her picture books, but none of her longer novels, and when Scholastic sent VIRGINIA HAMILTON: SPEECHES, ESSAYS AND CONVERSATIONS edited by Arnold Adoff and Kacy Cook, I begin to browse through it, reading here and there, and it was the perfect impetus to start reading her books. I decided to try to read THE PLANET OF JUNIOR BROWN; M.C. HIGGINS THE GREAT; SWEET WHISPERS, BROTHER RUSH; and IN THE BEGINNING this year. I did manage to finish M.C. HIGGINS and IN THE BEGINNING, but I still need to read those other honor books. The collected writings also made me want to read THE PEOPLE COULD FLY, MANY THOUSAND GONE, ANTHONY BURNS, THE MAGICAL ADVENTURES OF PRETTY PEARL, and the Justice trilogy (JUSTICE AND HER BROTHERS, DUSTLAND, THE GATHERING).
I’m going to try to read some more Virginia Hamilton this year, but I’m going to add another author to my list: Elizabeth George Speare. I’ve read her Honor book, THE SIGN OF THE BEAVER–in fact, I’ve taught it to a couple of fifth grade classes–but I’ve never read either THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND or THE BRONZE BOW. So that’s my goal for this year: read a couple more Virginia Hamilton books and read this pair of Medal winners from Elizabeth George Speare. I’m going to report on my progress in the fall, and I’ll ask you to do the same. Are you up for it?
Oh, and by the way . . . Monica and Roxanne are fixing to announce the Battle of the Kids’ Books shortlist on Wednesday, February 1st over on the BOB site. I think you may see some familiar faces. Stay tuned.
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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