Thoughts

Do Book Awards Matter?

Book Awards: Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Newberry Honor, Spur Award
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus won the Newberry Honor. Elmer Kelton won the Spur Award seven times, though not one of those times was for Hot Iron.

As a book blogger, does it matter to you whether or not a book has received awards?

Before taking Children’s Literature last fall, I only thought about awards on children’s books (Newberry or Caldecott) and the Pulitzer Prize. I did not follow them and only noticed if it was noted somewhere on the cover. I have liked and disliked books and movies that received awards and that didn’t. I rarely considered awards as a good measure of quality as far as telling me whether or not I should read it. (Of course, what kind of award would say that a book sucked?) After the taking the course, I saw some benefit to recording book awards, but I still feel the same about them as I did before taking the course.

I consider that the class I took is for pre-service teachers because we discussed how to measure the quality of a book. One way to measure quality of the book is to check the awards it has received.

Since taking the course, I have not seen mention of awards in reviews. I have seen awards listed on Goodreads and Amazon, and I have seen a couple of book bloggers keep track of awards in their general posts. Jenna @ Falling Letters kept track of the Cybils Awards for 2016 and shared her thoughts about the books on the long and shortlists, but I otherwise have not seen other book bloggers talk about book awards. Do those awards matter when you are blogging about books? Should they matter?

Why Book Awards Matter

  • They actually (attempt to) mark the quality of a work. They show great writing and well-executed ideas.
  • If you are looking for a book within a certain subject, type of publisher, or a demographic within diversity, book awards can be a good place to start.
  • If you are a teacher, there are book awards that are mostly led by children’s opinions, so that can help gauge what your students would be interested in. Some books that have been judged as high quality aren’t enjoyable to their intended audience, like some classics, and that makes children’s opinion-based awards valuable. A few of these awards are the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award, the Magnolia Book Award, and the Abraham Lincoln Award.
  • They can give recognition to authors, books, and publishers whose books might not receive much attention otherwise. These can also count as bragging rights for the authors and illustrators. I see why they benefit the authors and publishers for this, but I’m not seeing much benefit to the book blogger here.

Why Book Awards Don’t Matter (to Me)

  • Book awards are not going to stop me from buying or reading a book (I am not aware of any that say, “Hey, this is a bad book.”). I consult book reviews when I want to know if a book is worth reading.
  • What one person or a committee of people judge as good quality is not going to be the same for someone else.

The “reasons book awards don’t matter” list above is much shorter, but as a book blogger, I don’t keep up with book awards. I probably should keep up with awards, but those do not decide what I am going to read.

If a book has an award, the award will not affect my review of the book. I have read advice that it can help a review to mention an award the book won, but that does not ultimately affect how good I think a book is. It could give me a positive first impression, but it won’t change my final thoughts of the book. Book awards matter, but they do not affect my final thoughts or reviews of books because they are not on my radar. Kudos to you if you keep track of awards and get excited for them, but I’m just not that person.

Again: as a book blogger, does it matter to you if a book has won awards? If it does, does it affect your opinion of a book? Do you get excited about them or critique the judges’ choices? Is there something exciting that I’m missing in not following book awards? Let me know in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “Do Book Awards Matter?

  1. I’ve always thought children’s book awards mattered primarily to teachers. I don’t see the point of seeking out award-winning books specifically when plenty of awesome books merit awards but don’t receive them either because they are not categories that traditionally fit within the system or that are not considered as “art” still in some circles (graphic novels, for instance, might struggle to win literary awards), or just because there are so many great books and only one award! I think it’s nice for the author to receive an award, but that’s about it.

    1. There are graphic novel-specific awards, but it’s true that they are not considered literary awards. A lot of the awards perpetuate a certain type of acceptable book, but I think there are some types that try to counter that. There are also diversity-specific awards that focus on certain diverse characters or books by authors of certain demographics. Still, I have little use for them as a book blogger.

      1. That’s true, but sometimes when you are given your own awards it’s a sign that the other awards think you’re somehow lesser. 😦 It’s a problem that gets raise a lot when canon formation is discussed. If we make something like the Black canon or a women’s canon, some people argue that means we’re saying that those authors weren’t good enough to make it into the canon. That is, the “real” canon. I think it’s a little like that with children’s book awards and graphic novel awards. They had to make their own spaces because they weren’t accepted in the other spaces. But is that a good thing?

  2. Thanks for sharing my post! The Cybils are pretty much the only awards I pay close attention to, because they’re so linked to the book blogging community. I like that the award tries to strike a balance between kid appeal and literary merit. This year, I also casually followed my province’s Young Reader’s Choice awards, which has gr. 5 – 8 students vote for their favourite Canadian book. As you note, when it comes down to it, an award doesn’t affect my personal decision on whether to read a book, or what I think of that book. I’ll read what I like to read. That being said, I signed up for a Newbery challenge this year, in an attempt to read more ‘classic’ children’s literature. Awards for me are most useful in highlighting the ‘cream of the crop’ in a particular subclass of books (ex. Stonewall Book Award for LGBT+ books).

    1. I had no idea that the Cybils were tied to the book blogging community. I think I had a sense that it took readers’ opinions, but I didn’t realize how involved book bloggers are in the awards.

      I have forgotten to an extent that awards are useful for noticing great books in a subclass, like the Stonewall Book Award that you mention. I remembered it for graphic novels, though I didn’t really say it in my post. Thank you for the reminder. Good luck on the Newbery challenge!

  3. I don’t keep track of book awards or follow them in any way other that the Goodreads choice awards. I don’t tend to pay attention to awards or accolades a book has gotten or use that to judge whether I should read the book or not.

    1. I also follow the Goodreads choice awards, but once they’re decided, I don’t think about them again. I think I just want to see what everyone else thought about those books for the year.

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