Friendship isn’t easy but readers are: an Easy Reader for Newbery 2023?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the last and only easy reader to get a Newbery was Frog and Toad Together in 1973- and that was only an honor. So that beats Steven’s poetry drought, ha! Easy readers are developed for children learning to read, so although they are very important they often lack all the “Newbery criteria.”
No “clear” easy reader titles were nominated or suggested (titles like the SHEEP THE ROOSTER AND THE DUCK and BIG AND SMALL AND IN-BETWEEN seem too borderline. I tried to widen my easy reader reading this week but am unsure if I found “the winner.” Do you think any 2022 easy readers are Newbery contenders?
My top pick for a Newbery possible is GIGI AND OJIJI by Melissa Iwai. This title has a lot of action and themes packed into an easy reader and it doesn’t feel forced. The Japanese language melds in nicely in a way to introduce readers to the culture. The culture is also explained very well, it’s not that Ojiji doesn’t like Gigi, it’s that his culture is different. There are concrete examples of hugging and opening presents and the reader can really understand these situations. relatable examples opening presents, hugging. This has my vote for best easy reader and most Newbery probable of the year.
I mentioned FROG AND TOAD AGAIN and I feel like friendship books are the most common as easy readers. There are two higher quality ones I found:
CORNBREAD AND POPPY AT THE CARNIVAL by Matthew Cordell and BILLY & ROSE: FOREVER FRIENDS by Amy Hest. They are both divided into short stories and chapters and have cute themes of meeting in the middle and being different types of friends. I have trouble deciding which is stronger than the other though… they seem to both follow the friendship easy reader formula.
Another friendship title I really appreciated was FISH AND WAVE by Sergio Ruzzier. It is a beginning comic that uses simple language and strong dialogue to really showcase what a wave is and the connection between the wave and a fish. I’m questioning Ruzzier’s eligibility because he lived in Brooklyn for many years and now resides in Italy….
What do you think of these titles or any other easy readers? I may nominate GIGI AND OIJI… I’m thinking about it…
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Emily Mroczek-Bayci
Emily Mroczek (Bayci) is a freelance children’s librarian in the Chicago suburbs. She served on the 2019 Newbery committee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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