The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators gives an award each year to the best book of the previous year - in this case 2010. Members vote for books in their region. The top five, I believe, go to national. Receiving the Crystal Kite award marks a plateau in publishing for children.
As a member and voter, I choose to only vote if I've read the book. (I know some people possibly vote for the person rather than the book.) I checked out as many of the titles as I could find at my local library. The nominee list can be found on the SCBWI websites. Although the Rocky Mountain Region website states it encompasses Colorado and Wyoming, a Utah author appeared on the list. I realize I'll never be able to finish the 20 or so books I checked out before the voting deadline.
However, I will at least have read new releases of the past year. Not a bad thing. Which books received publication? Is there a new trend? Are fantasy books fading? How many are non-fiction vs fiction? All the answers to these questions help in determining what or how I write. Yet, I still stick to my interests and what I believe is a good subject for children. I also become acquainted with local authors' names and watch for their releases.
But, how to choose? The choices vary. I learned about the Candy Bomber of the Berlin Airlift. I read about a girl whose mother changes location every year. I gathered information about other countries that served as settings. Since many of the books are YA, I wonder if the categories could be tightened. The list included YA to young reader picture books. After reading the local nominees, I'll watch closely for the winners and read those for comparison.
If you write for children, be sure to join SCBWI. But, most of all, READ, read children's books. Not only the new releases but the classics as well.
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