Last week, we were thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2013 Walden Award, and today, we wanted to share more about the award and the committee.
Background of the Award
The Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award was established in 2008 and is presented by ALAN (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE) yearly. The award honors Amelia Elizabeth Walden, a pioneer in the field of young adult literature. The criteria for the award is that the honored titles must: possess a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and strong literary merit. What makes the award different from ALA’s Printz, for example, is that although literary merit is important, the book needs to meet the other two criteria as well.
When I first heard about the committee at the ALAN Workshop, I knew I wanted to apply. I thought it was a long-shot, but I submitted my application and was thrilled to be accepted. I knew some of the other members on the committee, and I was so excited to work with such important, knowledgeable individuals.
Opening up the first box of books was very exciting. I could wait to review and discuss them. I’ll admit—it was hard work. In the beginning, I had to schedule reading time (something I’d never done before because I was always a voracious reader), and that first year, I think I drove my husband nuts. While I felt my stacks of books were very organized, he didn’t enjoy that he had to walk through a maze of books to get from our bedroom to the bathroom. I should also add that he didn’t enjoy that I was up until three in the morning most nights, waking him up as I sobbed or laughed at a scene from a book. I have always read an excessive number of books, but these past few years, I have truly learned the meaning of the phrase: There is ALWAYS time to read.
Being on the committee has been like a second job for me, but it is equally as rewarding as teaching. I have read more than I ever thought I could read. We discussed, discussed, and discussed each of the books. I reread books until I began to know their lines by heart. The books became a part of me, as I had spent hours looking at every aspect of them as we exchanged conversations about each of them. I have always been willing to give any book of any genre a try, but now, I find myself eagerly looking for more variety in my reading. I love to find books in new topics or subgenres because I have learned so much from the books I’ve read on the committee. This year is my fifth (and last) year on the committee, where I served as the past chair. I am sad to part ways, as the committee has become a major part of my life. I’ve formed so many close bonds with wonderful individuals (after all—were it not for this committee, I wouldn’t have found Kellee!), and I have truly loved the hundreds upon hundreds of conversations I have had with my colleagues about the incredible books that were submitted.
I first heard about the Walden award at my first ALAN workshop where I was lucky enough to see Kristin Cashore receive the award for Fire. I was currently in love with The Monstrumologist series, so I knew that the award was something I needed to keep my eye on. Then in 2011, I saw a call for applications tweet come from Teri Lesesne to become part of the award committee, and I immediately went to ALAN’s website to learn more. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I, a normal teacher from Florida, could become part of this amazing procedure. I could be part of reviewing books and choosing which book deserves that coveted award sticker. So, I applied, and voila! I got to be part of this amazing committee.
Like Ricki, receiving the books was such a treat! Though, I surprised myself, because I actually ended up being more excited about the process than the actual quantities of books. I got caught up in the reading and recording and discussing. Though sometimes it is a lot of work, it is so worth it! And yes, it includes lots and lots of reading, but it is so, so, so worth it. Being at the ALAN workshop last year to meet authors who were honored partially because of being—AMAZING!
Being on the committee has changed my life. It has helped me become a larger part of ALAN, it has helped me meet more authors, and, probably most importantly, it has helped me connect with colleagues (and friends!!! *cough* Ricki) that I will have as part of my life forever.
Finalists (Winner to be Announced Shortly)
Past and Current Chairs
Wendy Glenn (2009), Daria Plumb (2010), Teri Lesesne (2011), Ricki Ginsberg (2012), Lois Buckman (2013)
Past and Current Committee Members
Carolyn Angus, Mary Arnold, Jonatha Basye, cj Bott, Jean Boreen, Jennifer Buehler, Paul Hankins, Jeff Harr, Jeff Kaplan, Bonnie Kunzel, Mark Letcher, Suzanne Metcalfe, Kellee Moye, Mindi Rench, Lois Stover, Diane Tuccillo, Barbara Ward, Jennifer Walsh
Apply to Be on the Committee
The committee is made up of three teachers, three librarians, three university professors, and one chair. The committee is looking to fill three vacancies (a teacher, a librarian, and a university professor). Currently (and annually), ALAN calls for applications for new committee members and information can be found on their website: http://www.alan-ya.org/. The deadline for applications is September 15, 2013.
We hope we have helped you understand the joy of being part of this amazing committee. We wouldn’t trade our experiences for the world.