I recently went to an event where they talked about the Book of the Year Shortlist 2013 for the Children's Book Council of Australia. Very interesting to hear what books were shortlisted, but also the how and why behind it all.

There are 8 judges, one for each state and territory of Australia.  They judge the Older Reader (OR), Younger Readers (YR), Early Childhood (EC) and Picture Book (PB) categories. A panel of 4 judge the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books (EP).

I must admit to not having read many of those shortlisted, however I have read many of the 'notables'. The notables are those that just missed out by usually one vote to be shortlisted.

It made me wonder how much glory is placed in having a book that wins a prize. Yes there is an award, usually money to some extent...and of course publishers rush to put those little stickers on the covers of the books.

So who does this award appeal to? Authors naturally. It must be a wonderful feeling to have your book chosen as the 'best' in a category. Publishers of course, winning awards tends to lead to publicity which often translates into sales. Teachers, librarians, parents and grandparents - those that buy books for children. But do the children themselves care about a book that has won an award?

And how often does the winning list of those chosen by adults, such as the CBCA, differ to the Inkys or Yabba?

The Inky awards are international awards for teenage literature (YA) but chosen and voted by the readers of Readers are voting.

Yabba- The Young Australians Best Book Awards - is for Victoria but each state has their own version. In this case, children are asked to nominate their favourite Australian books.

At the CBCA awards I listened as the host talked about the books shortlisted, she read snippets of various ones,  and it was very obvious she has a favourite author. She talked of use of language, of subtlety and of complexity of text. For older readers perhaps, but picture books?

So really who is best qualified to judge books for children?

I am an adult that reads the whole range of children's books. From picture books to begin to reads, chapter books to young adult. Some because of my work, but the majority because I like to know what is out there for kids and young adults. And I think so many adults miss out on some great books because they don't read 'children' or 'young adult'.

But I am an adult. I can't help but read with an adults experience, taste and understanding. Many of the stories, especially picture books that I love, my Storytimers don't get. They miss the humour or the subtlety, the irony or even the way the illustrations contradict the text. Most LOVE books that I shudder at reading.

Awards are so very interesting. They are often personal, timely and strike a chord with the reader.

When asked why there were so many books on war shortlisted for the CBCA, the answer was, 'that's the way it was.'  Unfortunately not a lot of children voluntarily choose to read books on is in the school curriculum which means they are forced to read them (which really is another topic for discussion)

So once again I wonder who is the best judge for children's books?

I think the answer is simple...children.


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