Debating Decades: A New Poll for the 2000s, Plus Results of the 2010s Poll
Four weeks ago we launched our first “Debating Decades” poll, covering the 2010s. For each year from 2010-2019 we asked participants to pick their favorite Newbery Medal winner, based on their personal reading preference. Then, using the same list of winners, participants chose the book that they felt children liked best. Finally, they selected the title that displayed the highest level of literary quality.
Using those same three lenses (Personal Favorite/Children’s Favorite/Highest Quality), 126 participants weighed in on two more lists from each year of the decade: Newbery Honor books (just one per year, selected by Steven and Emily); and books that did not win Newbery recognition (also selected by Emily and Steven).
Now we’ll ask you to dig a little further back into your reading history and answer the same question for the years from 2000 – 2009. Take that poll here. We’ll leave it open until November 17th and share results a week after that.
Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the results from our 2010s polls. Full results are listed at the bottom of this post and we’d love to hear what you think of them. We’ll start by sharing some things that stood out to us:
STEVEN: I notice that a bunch of books that did well in the Personal Favorite category scored pretty poorly in the Children’s Favorite column. A winner from one of my Committee years is the most extreme example: WHEN YOU REACH ME was a clear favorite of Heavy Medal readers (29%)…but not with kids (3%). We know the award is “not for popularity,” but it does remind us how challenging it can be for adult readers to judge how appealing books will be to children….
EMILY: Good point Steven. The CROSSOVER is the only title that seemed consistent in votes… was that one a “shoo-in” going into it? I don’t even remember anymore and it wasn’t even that long ago!
STEVEN: Interesting about THE CROSSOVER. I don’t remember that being a clear favorite. It came in 5th in Heavy Medal’s Online Poll that year. My top pick was EAST OF THE SUN that year…oh well.
EMILY: Our buddy Quade is always saying children should have more of a choice in the winners… I just don’t see that happening though– maybe a manual update that allows children to suggest books… not just ALSC members?
STEVEN: I agree that kids aren’t likely to have a direct Newbery vote. But Committee members do all they can to get input from kids about the year’s books. Here’s guidance from the Newbery Manual: “Committee members are strongly encouraged to speak with others—children and adults alike—regarding eligible books, to benefit from informing themselves about a variety of perspectives on titles.” (p 50).
EMILY: You KNEW I was going to bring this up Steven… how did it feel reading the results from your committee years (and you had TWO of them). Personally I was not at all surprised for the lack of love for MERCI and THE BOOK OF BOY (my year)- but that doesn’t change my opinions!
STEVEN: It was interesting (but not surprising) that two of the 2010 books did well with adult readers and literary quality, but not with kids. Then in my second year, 2013, we have IVAN, which scored very high with kids, and not so well with the other two. Just a reminder that every year really is different…and so is every committee. But I have to say I’m really glad we have books like DEAD END IN NORVELT, HELLO UNIVERSE, and of course MERCI SUAREZ on the list of winners. I like the variety and the feeling that anything can happen…
EMILY: Definitely true, you always make me feel better about the unexpected wins. On that note, I did have some surprises on this survey. I didn’t realize children like GONE CRAZY IN ALABAMA SO MUCH, thought ONE AND ONLY IVAN should have had a higher quality vote (Steven didn’t pay me to say that) and am still convinced that (older) children do love A LONG WAY DOWN. Any surprises for you Steven?
STEVEN: I was surprised by GONE CRAZY too…especially since ONE CRAZY SUMMER, the first in that series, scored low with kids. And overall, just disappointed that some of my absolute favorites score low with children, including WHEN YOUR REACH ME, BOMB, and THE BOOK OF BOY.
EMILY: Take a look at the results list below, with the leaders in each category highlighted in yellow. I’m excited to see what is in store for next month, where we look through the Newbery winners of my childhood (sorry Steven). Our Debating Decades Poll: the 2000s, which is open from now through November 17th.:
|Year||Newbery Medal Books||PersonalFavorite||ChildrenFavorite||HighestQuality|
|2010||WHEN YOU REACH ME||29%||3%||27%|
|2011||MOON OVER MANIFEST||4%||1%||6%|
|2012||DEAD END IN NORVELT||3%||1%||0%|
|2013||THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN||13%||59%||6%|
|2014||FLORA AND ULYSSES||9%||7%||6%|
|2016||LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET||4%||4%||6%|
|2017||THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON||15%||1%||20%|
|2019||MERCI SUAREZ CHANGES GEARS||5%||2%||1%|
|Year||Newbery Honor Books||PersonalFavorite||ChildrenFavorite||HighestQuality|
|2010||WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON||14%||6%||18%|
|2011||ONE CRAZY SUMMER||14%||2%||12%|
|2012||INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN||8%||3%||15%|
|2017||THE INQUISITOR’S TALE||8%||1%||5%|
|2018||A LONG WAY DOWN||14%||5%||21%|
|2019||THE BOOK OF BOY||4%||0%||4%|
|2011||A TALE DARK AND GRIMM||10%||23%||4%|
|2012||OKAY FOR NOW||18%||3%||22%|
|2013||LIAR AND SPY||3%||2%||11%|
|2014||COUNTING BY 7’S||15%||13%||10%|
|2015||THE FAMILY ROMANOV||6%||3%||12%|
|2016||GONE CRAZY IN ALABAMA||5%||42%||8%|
|2018||I’M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING||6%||5%||2%|
Heavy Medal readers also suggested several books that they would like to have seen included in the Honor Books and No Newbery lists:
Honor Books mentioned:
- ALL THIRTEEN by Christina Soontornvat
- ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan
- THE LAST MAPMAKER by Christina Soontornvat
- THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
“No Newbery” books mentioned:
- THE ASSASSINATION OF BRANGWAIN SPURGE by M.T. Anderson & Eugene Yelchin
- BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA by Lauren Wolk
- THE HIRED GIRL by Laura Amy Schlitz
- WONDER by R. J. Palacio
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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