School librarian Nancy Green.
The committee held its first meeting in Boston, Mass., from Jan. 14-19.
“The main work of the committee was procedural,” Green said. “We discussed criteria for books, how to apply and how the awarding would occur.”
According to criteria developed by the committee, the award will recognize authors and illustrators “of the most distinguished contribution to the body of America children’s literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year.”
The procedure is being patterned after those for other, established ALSC awards like the Caldecott and Newbery medals, with an invitation for submissions going out to publishers of children’s literature and the selection of honor books along with the winning titles. Because of Geisel’s stature as children’s author, it’s expected that this award will be just as highly-regarded, Green said.
In fact, it was because of these other awards that Green was selected to serve on the committee. She had been on the application list for both the Newbery and Caldecott awards.
“Like every children’s librarian, I was a committee hopeful for the Caldecott and Newbery Awards,” she said. “Because this is a brand-new award, there is no list, so they went back to those lists.”
Committee members serve for a year. Green will travel to Chicago in June and she and her committee colleagues will announce winning and honor books next January in San Antonio, Texas.
She said because the award is new, it’s hard to say how many books will be submitted. Last year, the Caldecott Committee reviewed 475 books.
Green hopes that response is as strong for this award. Aside from the prestige of serving on the committee, particularly in its inaugural year, Green is allowed to keep all of the books she reviews to donate to the library of her choice.
For a librarian, this is an opportunity of a lifetime, she said.
“I was so impressed by the caliber and academic levels of these people,” Green said. “They are the cream of the library science crop. I am very honored and humbled to have been asked to serve.”
Green said it was her 22 years of teaching experience that earned her a place on the committee. She has taught at first, second and fifth grade levels, as well as special education for grades kindergarten-eight.
Her library experience includes a directorship at Enlow Public Library in West Branch, Iowa and as the main catalgouer at the Flagstaff Public Library.
This is her 12th year at Grand Canyon School.
“I call myself a teacher/librarian,” she said. “This is the job I’ve always wanted.”