Okay, by show of hands, how many bought my YA Bootcamp challenge post yesterday?
Up until now, I couldn’t reveal that in fact I’ll be judging the YA category for the Cybil’s this year. I’m really excited about this. Not only is YA a competitive category, but I’ve always felt strongly that you have to be a part of a process to know its strengths, weaknesses etc…
Every year (well except maybe last year because I had a new job and was swamped) I’ve gotten out my megaphone and encouraged folks to nominate brown books for the Cybils. And here’s why:
How do brown books rate?
Being a brown author is no different than real life as a person of color. You’re perpetually stuck between wanting to be accepted just for who you are and being identified by your race, no matter how subtly. The fact is, getting our books in front of a variety of readers (like the Cybils panels) helps, in a sense, to make sure our books can compete.
Judging literature is a sticky wicket no matter what. It’s subjective, I know. But there’s a basic measuring tool that emerges, within these sort of panels, and if our books aren’t meeting the standard among bloggers and librarians who push kiddie lit, we’re not being talked about. And God knows we need the boost.
Next best thing
Cybil judges are the next best thing to reaching our readers direct. They are active bloggers (many of them librarians, booksellers, authors, teachers) who are passionate about books and want to uplift good stories. Why wouldn’t we want our books being discussed in these circles?
Reading In Color, Crazy Quilts, Cybils, Readergirlz and Brown Bookshelf are all very different but they all share the same goal – we want to guide readers to good reads. It’s a sisterhood. We validate one another. And the more voices that support children’s lit overall, the harder it is to drown us out.
Although the boot camp post was a thinly veiled way to start blogging about some of the YA noms I’m reading, I will in fact be blogging about these books here at BBS throughout this first round of judging. And it is like a bootcamp. I read three books last night! My husband’s already feeling neglected and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel because it’s expected we’ll receive about 200 nominations.
So, light a candle for me (and him) and I’ll see you on the other side.