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The Year’s Biggest Book Awards for Kids and Teens Are Here

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Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) and affiliated library organizations present the prestigious Youth Media Awards, a celebration of the very best content for children and young adults—all curated by expert librarians.

This morning, ALA announced 2021 honors including the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott Book Award, and more. Check out the full list below:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

When You Trap a Tiger, by Tae Keller

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom

Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognizing an African American literature for children and young adults:

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award:

Before the Ever After, by Jacqueline Woodson

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, illustrated by Frank Morrison and written by Carole Boston Weatherford

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:

Legendborn, by Tracy Deonn

Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement:

Dorothy L. Guthrie, author of “Integrating African American Literature in the Library and Classroom”

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story), by Daniel Nayeri

Schneider Family Book Award for literature about the disability experience:

Schneider Family Book Award for Young Children:

I Talk Like a River, written by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith

Schneider Family Book Award for Middle Grade:

Show Me a Sign, by Ann Clare LeZotte

Schneider Family Book Award for Teens:

This Is My Brain in Love, by I.W. Gregorio

Alex Awards for adult books that appeal to teen audiences:

Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice - Crossing Antarctica Alone, by Colin O’Brady

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, by Derf Backderf

The Kids Are Gonna Ask, by Gretchen Anthony

The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones

Plain Bad Heroines, by emily m. danforth

Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi

Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh

We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel, by Quan Barry

Children’s Literature Legacy Award:

Mildred D. Taylor, author of  “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry”, “The Land”, “The Road to Memphis”, and more

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:

Kekla Magoon, author of “X: A Novel” (co-written by Ilyasah Shabazz), “How It Went Down”, “The Rock and the River”, and more

Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book in translation:

Telephone Tales (Favole al telefono), written by Gianni Rodari, illustrated by Valerio Vidali, and translated into English by Antony Shugaar

Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults:

Kent State, produced by Paul R, written by Deborah Wiles, and narrated by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina DeLaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David de Vries

Pura Belpré Awards for Latinx literature:

Pura Belpré Illustrator Award:

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat, illustrated and written by Raúl Gonzalez

Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award:

Efrén Divided, by Ernesto Cisneros

Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Award:

Furia, by Yamile Saied Méndez

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award:

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

The Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award:

The Imagine Neighborhood, produced by Committee for Children

Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award for LGBTQ books: 

We Are Little Feminists: Families, written by Archaa Shrivastav and designed by Lindsey Blakely

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning reader books:

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog, written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

William C. Morris Award for a debut book for teens:

If These Wings Could Fly, by Kyrie McCauley

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:

The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh, by Candace Fleming

Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature:

Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature – Picture Books:

Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist, written by Julie Leung and illustrated by Chris Sasaki

Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature – Children’s Literature:

When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller

Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature – Youth Literature:

This Light Between Us, by Andrew Fukuda

The Sydney Taylor Book Award for literature about the Jewish experience:

Sydney Taylor Book Award – Picture Books:

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tailby Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Susan Gal

Sydney Taylor Book Award – Middle Grade:

Turtle Boy, by M. Evan Wolkenstein

Sydney Taylor Book Award – Young Adult:

Dancing at the Pity Party, written and illustrated by Tyler Feder

For more information about this year’s Youth Media Awards, visit American Libraries.

Stephen Colbert is Confounded by this Library Potato Mystery

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A starchy enigma has been bedeviling staff at the Wayland Free Public Library in Massachusetts: over the past two weeks, potatoes have been inexplicably appearing on the library’s front lawn. This unexplained occurrence has managed to attract national attention, garnering a segment on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

“This is the kind of news I hope to spend more time thinking about in 2021,” Colbert shared before unpacking the mystery. He goes on to speculate about whether the “taters of chaos” are “responding to some sort of primal potato call to assemble for the great potato uprising” or if Bigfoot may somehow be involved.

Wayland residents have been sharing their own theories on Facebook, positing everything from “TikTok shenangians” to “a game of hot potato gone awry.”

For now, library staff remain vexed. “One doesn’t even know what to think!” assistant director Andy Moore told WHDH. “One doesn’t randomly encounter tubers on the lawn.”

Check out the Late Show clip below:

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Readers’ Most Anticipated Books of 2021

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A new year means new books—so we asked I Love Libraries readers and the American Library Association’s social media followers to share the releases they’re most excited about for 2021.

The responses included a diverse array of fantasy, YA, nonfiction, mystery, and more, from a mix of bestselling authors and debut writers. Here are some of the highlights:

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (June 15)! I cannot wait to see young Maverick in action and revisit favorite characters! Ms. Thomas' books are so engrossing, lively, and resounding with current events and memorable moments that you carry with you long after finishing the book!”—Mandy G.

Hall of Smoke by H. M. Long (January 19). There's a heavy epic fantasy element involving gods and Viking-like elements which makes it seem hardcore! I'm a sucker for epic fantasy and since I played Assassin's Creed: Valhalla recently I've been looking for some good Viking stories!”—Julia B.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken (January 5) because it is a unique take on mythology that seems completely enthralling and action packed.”—Kyera S.

The God Equation by Michio Kaku (April 6). I have always loved popular science books, and I believe Kaku is one of the best and clearest communicators of complex theoretical physics. Books like this inspire me to believe that we may be close to a unified understanding in my lifetime of how our universe really works. Not to mention the book comes out the day after my birthday!”—Jessica K.

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia (March 30). I’m looking forward to this Multigenerational family saga that’s got history and present so beautifully blended together. I’m also a sucker for debut novels!”—Amy W.

Dork Diaries 15: Tales from a Not-So-Posh Paris Adventure by Rachel Renée Russell (May 4) because I've read all of the other Dork Diaries books, and I have a lot of them on audiobook too. I even trace the cartoons to make my own coloring pages. The waitlist is already 30 people long at my library. I can't wait to see if Nikki gets to go to Paris, because I'd like to go there with my friends one day too.”—Jett C.

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury (June 15)! I love urban fantasy, I love witches, and I love seeing diversity in YA, so I am extremely pumped for this.”—Louie M.

For more great book recommendations, visit the Booklist Reader.

Librarians’ Top Graphic Novels for Teens

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Members of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) have put together an amazing list of recent graphic novels for teens.

A committee of librarians curated their 126 favorite titles from 145 nominations submitted by readers. Their picks include a diverse mix of fiction and nonfiction books and are curated for youth aged 12 to 18.

Here are YALSA’s top ten favorites from the 2021 Great Graphic Novels for Teens:

Almost American Girlby Robin Ha

Blue Flag, by Kaito

Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence, by Joel Christian Gill

Go With the Flow, by Karen Schneemann, art by Lily Williams

Guantánamo Voices: True Accounts from the World’s Most Infamous Prison, by Sarah Mirk, art by Gerardo Alba, Kasia Babis, Alex Beguez, Tracy Chahwan, Nomi Kane, et al.

The Low, Low Woods, by Carmen Maria Machado, art by DaNi

The Magic Fish, by Trung Le Nguyen

Snapdragonby Kat Leyh

Superman Smashes the Klan, by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru

Wonder Twins, by Mark Russell, art by Stephen Byrne

Check out the full list at the YALSA website.

Ethan Hawke Shares Why You Should Support Your Library

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In a new PSA video for the American Library Association, actor, writer, and director Ethan Hawke explains why it’s so important to support our nation’s libraries.

“I’m here to talk to you about libraries, one of the most beautiful institutions that mankind has ever created,” he shares. “[Libraries are] a place where people from all backgrounds can join and be submerged in the ideas of the generations before us and the generations that are present right now.”

“If you can, please give to your local public library,” Hawke urges in the clip. “It is desperately needed.”

Check out the full video:

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This Louisiana Library is Keeping Its Community Strong After Devastating Hurricanes

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This August, Hurricane Laura made landfall across southwest Louisiana, devastating communities that had already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic; in October, Hurricane Delta brought even more destruction to the region. With help from a $20,000 donation from the American Library Association (ALA), the Calcasieu Parish Public Library (CPPL) has been instrumental in local recovery efforts, connecting residents to much-needed technology access and information.

The damage from the storms forced several CPPL branches to close, but staff recognized that community members still needed library services more than ever. “There is very limited access to computers, printers, copiers, fax service in the parish as a result of the hurricanes,” CPPL director Marjorie Harrison told ALA. “People need to file insurance and FEMA claims, file for unemployment, find work, and communicate with loved ones.”

To help residents get the digital access they need, CPPL launched weekly pop-up library service in key areas—locals can stop by and use technology in socially-distant tents. “Patrons are very grateful. I watched a patron sit outside for over an hour under a pop-up tent in the parking lot of the Epps branch using one of the library’s laptop computers,” Harrison shared. “She walked over from a house nearby and was thrilled to be able to use a computer at the library.”

A $20,000 donation from ALA’s Disaster Relief Fund will allow CPPL to expand their services to affected communities in the new year. The gift will go toward three portable buildings that will be hooked up to utilities for a return to full, staffed service, as well as technology kits to provide convenient Wi-Fi, printing, and scanning.

“The funds will allow us to provide regular, daily library service in these communities that no longer have a local branch library,” Harrison said. “Patrons will be overjoyed to have their branch and all its services back!”

To support libraries in need, donate to the American Library Association Disaster Relief Fund.


Meet 10 of America’s Favorite Librarians

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Every year, thousands of library users submit nominations for the American Library Association (ALA)’s I Love My Librarian Award—but only 10 outstanding nominees can receive this prestigious honor. This year’s newly announced winners have truly gone above and beyond to serve and empower their communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During an unprecedentedly challenging year, librarians have risen to the occasion, providing much-needed resources to their communities from a safe distance,” ALA president Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. shared in a press release. “Congratulations to this year’s I Love My Librarian Award winners, who have worked tirelessly to assist, engage, and empower the people they serve.” 

Leaders from the library community selected the winners from a pool of 1,865 nominations. The honorees will each receive $5,000, plus a $750 gift to their libraries, both funded by award sponsor Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Here are this year’s winners:

Jayanti Addleman

As director of California’s Hayward Public Library, Addleman has kept her community strong during the pandemic. Her efforts include removing barriers to online library card registration, distributing technology to community members in need and purchasing a bookmobile to distribute resources throughout the area.

Jessica Bell

Bell’s leadership has transformed the Bellack Library at Boston’s MGH Institute of Health Professions into a world-class resource for teaching and learning, offering information literacy training for all students, open access course materials and extensive expertise in instructional design.

Sean Bird

At Washburn University in Kansas, Bird has worked tirelessly to support student success, especially for learners from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds. During 2020’s emergency shift to online learning, he led a technology lending program that distributed laptops to every student who needed one.

Naomi Bishop

Bishop is a champion for social justice at the University of Arizona’s Phoenix Biomedical Campus, raising much-needed awareness about racism in health sciences literature. She has also contributed valuable research and reference expertise to the local medical community during the pandemic.

Jesse Braun

During the pandemic, Braun has been a lifeline for students and teachers at California’s Beverly Vista Middle School, leading online lessons, transitioning clubs to virtual meetings, offering remote reference assistance, and disseminating bags of textbooks to 900 students, all while maintaining social distancing.

Adilene Estrada-Huerta

At California’s Sacramento Public Library, Estrada-Huerta has provided outstanding outreach services to Spanish-speaking families, including bilingual storytimes, a traveling literacy program and a partnership with the Mexican Consulate.

Jianye He

Chinese studies scholars in at the University of California, Berkeley and beyond rely on He for expert assistance locating hard-to-find sources. Her vast network of research contacts, welcoming demeanor and extensive subject knowledge have made her indispensable to the scholarly community.

Jane Martellino

Martellino has created a vibrant culture of literacy at the International School at Dundee, located in Greenwich, Connecticut. Her efforts include launching the school’s Battle of the Books and “one book, one school” initiatives, as well as founding Connecticut’s first K-3 book award program.

Jennifer Newcome

At Northeastern High School in Manchester, Pennsylvania, Newcome has transformed the library into a community hub. Learners of all kinds feel welcome in the space, from struggling students seeking out tutoring to dual-enrollees who need somewhere to focus on college assignments.

Elizabeth Moreau Nicolai

In her time at Anchorage Public Library, Nicolai has helped countless children discover a love of literacy and STEAM. Her accomplishments include partnering with the Anchorage School District to register more than 90 percent of local students for a public library card.

Nominations for this year's I Love My Librarian Awards are open through September 27!


The Mysterious Librarian in Netflix's “Hilda” Finally Gets a Name

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by Burkely Hermann

On December 14, 2020, the second season of Hilda, the beloved British-Canadian animation, premiered on Netflix. The show’s first season introduced one of the most intriguing librarian characters in recent TV memory, and this newest batch of episodes brings even more screen time to the fan-favorite role. Hilda continues to show the value of libraries and librarians, remaining one of the best animated depictions of the profession, alongside all-ages shows Cleopatra in Space and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.

In the new season of Hilda, the characters spend longer in their city's public library than in the previous season, and the value of libraries is again emphasized. In the third episode of this season, protagonists Hilda and Frida look for the librarian, who isn't at the information desk, and comment on how she has been supportive in the past. They enter the hidden special collections room, find a book slip, and travel through secret rooms before coming upon a hallway. They see the librarian chanting and follow her through a magic passageway she created. Once inside, they enter the Witches Tower, its walls covered with shelves of books. The librarian comes before three witches who govern the tower; they tell her that she must return a book missing from the library for almost 30 years. She says that the person who borrowed the book is responsible for it and the witches threaten to cast her into a void if she cannot locate the lost item.

Just in time, Frida and Hilda come out of hiding to help the librarian. Later, they all enter a labyrinth to reach the person who borrowed the book. Along the way, the librarian talks about the value of witchcraft, saying it is about knowledge and “knowing the true shape of things” than about powers and spells. The same could be said about librarianship, which is about sorting books, organization, recognizing what is within collections, and addressing the needs of patrons.

The librarian eventually admits to the protagonists, and the old woman who borrowed the book, why she had not tried to locate the missing book until now: she was embarrassed that she could not use the right spell to find it. After their return before the witches, a magical mishap inadvertently opens the void of no return, trapping the librarian, Hilda, and Frida. With Hilda and Frida’s assistance, the librarian is finally able to cast the correct spell, restoring the book to its library shelf at last. In the end, the episode shows the value of libraries, proper organization, and knowledge itself. The episode also reveals the librarian’s name for the first time: Kaisa, possibly an homage to the character’s voice actor, Kaisa Hammarlund.

The next episode that the librarian appears in is markedly different. It begins with Hilda accidentally releasing a group of magical “tide mice” which take over the headquarters of a local company and give one man good fortune. As we learned in season one, tide mice initially bring people fantastic luck but then eventually claim their souls. Meanwhile, Hilda and her friends David and Frida, read books in the local library, as part of Frida’s quest to improve her witchcraft abilities through research. The three witches who inhabit the hidden chambers of the library confront the group and accuse Hilda of releasing the tide mice.

Later that night, the protagonists, and Hilda’s animal companion, sneak into the library on a mission to fix the tide mice problem. Kaisa catches them but decides to help them with their quest. She joins them, leading to sequence reminiscent of Ghostbusters, as each of them attempt to eliminate the tide mice in the office building, who are attracted to people’s greed. In one particularly delightful moment, she uses her magic powers to ride a vacuum cleaner like a skateboard. Coincidentally, Ghostbusters begins with a famous scene in the New York Public Library, which is regarded as one of the best library scenes in film. The enchantment of the tide mice is reversed, and the day is saved just in time. In the end, Kaisa goes beyond her normal responsibilities to aid her patrons, making clear the importance of librarians and libraries.

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“The Great Gatsby” and “Mrs. Dalloway” Just Entered the Public Domain

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Each year, a wide array of copyrighted books, movies, music, and more enters the public domain—which means that anyone can freely use, share, and modify them without paying a fee. Starting on January 1, the copyright has been lifted on works from 1925, empowering countless creators, educators, librarians, and learners to use these important cultural materials without restriction.

“1925 brought us some incredible culture,” Jennifer Jenkins, director of Duke University's Center for the Study of the Public Domain, shared in a blog post. “The Harlem Renaissance was in full swing. The New Yorker magazine was founded. The literature reflected both a booming economy, whose fruits were unevenly distributed, and the lingering upheaval and tragedy of World War I.” 

“How will people celebrate this trove of cultural material?” Jenkins wrote. “Community theaters can screen the films. Youth orchestras can afford to publicly perform, or rearrange, the music. Educators and historians can share the full cultural record. Creators can legally build on the past—reimagining the books, making them into films, adapting the songs.”

The full list of materials entering the public domain is enormous, but here a few of the most high-profile books featured, curated by Jenkins:

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

In Our Time, by Ernest Hemingway

The Trial, by Franz Kafka (in German)

An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

Manhattan Transfer, by John Dos Passos

The New Negro, by Alain Locke, (collecting works from writers including W.E.B. du Bois, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Eric Walrond)

Arrowsmith, by Sinclair Lewis

The Secret of Chimneys, by Agatha Christie

Those Barren Leaves, by Aldous Huxley

The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham

On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs, by Dorothy Scarborough

The Writing of Fiction, by Edith Wharton

A Daughter of the Samurai, by Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto

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“Shrek,” “The Joy Luck Club,” and 23 Other Movies Join the National Film Registry

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The Library of Congress’s National Film Registry preserves hundreds of culturally important works from our nation’s cinematic history—and this month, 25 titles from the past century have been added to the prestigious list.

Movies were selected for their culture, aesthetic, or historic significance, and range from blockbusters and Oscar winners to art films and documentaries. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden selected this year’s films with input from the National Film Preservation Board, Library of Congress specialists, and thousands of nominations from the general public.

This year’s selections come from a diverse cohort of filmmakers: in a new record for the registry, 10 out of 25 films were directed by women, and seven were made by directors of color.

 “The National Film Registry is an important record of American history, culture, and creativity, captured through one of the great American artforms, our cinematic experience,” Hayden shared in a press release. “With the inclusion of diverse filmmakers, we are not trying to set records but rather to set the record straight by spotlighting the astonishing contributions women and people of color have made to American cinema, despite facing often-overwhelming hurdles.”

Check out the full list of this year’s selections:

Suspense (1913)

Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)

Bread (1918)

The Battle of the Century (1927)

With Car and Camera Around the World (1929)

Cabin in the Sky (1943)

Outrage (1950)

The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)

Lilies of the Field (1963)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)

Wattstax (1973)

Grease (1978)

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Losing Ground (1982)

Illusions (1982)

The Joy Luck Club (1993)

The Devil Never Sleeps (1994)

Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

The Ground (1993-2001)

Shrek (2001)

Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege (2006)

The Hurt Locker (2008)

The Dark Knight (2008)

Freedom Riders (2010)

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