A National Book Award, A KDL Connection

It goes without saying that winning a national book award is a pretty big deal. It’s also a pretty big deal to serve on a committee that selects those books.

Helen Kay Kennedy, manager of the Spencer Township branch, returned recently from the American Library Association’s midwinter conference in Dallas, where she participated in the Batchelder Award Committee deliberations to choose the best translated children’s book of 2011.

Helen Kay’s work actually began about a year earlier, when her third try at applying to be on the committee was accepted by the ALA, and books that were nominated started to roll in.

The committee spent an entire day deliberating on their top choices, she said.

“It was very intense and very informative to me to have a high-level literature discussion about the books we were considering, and discussing it with people who were all thoroughly invested in children’s literature,” she said.

Helen Kay, who previously served on the Outstanding International Books Committee for the U.S. Board on Books, has a longtime interest in international children’s books that began when she was homeschooling her children.

Years later, when visiting her college-age daughter who was doing an internship in Uganda, Helen Kay connected with a youth librarian there and “realized there was both a need for Ugandan children to have literature about their own country and also a need for U.S. children to hear stories from other countries,” she said. “Children gain a global understanding through that kind of literature.”

The Batchelder award is given to a publisher for bringing the translated book to the U.S., and this year’s winner was local publisher Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. of Grand Rapids, for the book Soldier Bear.

One Batchelder Honor Book also was selected: The Lily Pond, published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

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Written by Morgan J.

Morgan J.

Morgan J. is a KDL communications assistant. She spends summers as a “hood ornament” of sorts while her husband captains their old, cedar-sided pontoon down the Flat River. In the wintertime she counts the days until she’ll have her toes in the water again.

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2 Responses to “A National Book Award, A KDL Connection”

  1. Katie Says:

    Wow – What an incredible opportunity! I would love to hear more details about Ms. Kennedy’s experiences on the panel: what did she read over the course of the year? how was the list narrowed down? what were some of the criteria that they discussed on the final day? I’m not sure how much of this information is confidential… but I’d love to learn more!

  2. Morgan Says:

    Katie- Your instincts are correct: a stipulation of Helen Kay’s being on the committee is keeping very private the particulars of the selection process. True to reputation, librarians are bastions of privacy!