Took a BERS seminar yesterday on 101 Best Books for Young Adults. Very interesting, even if I didn't agree with all of the choices. The woman who ran the seminar, Bonnie Kunzel, is very well-read and has an impressive professional record:
The most interesting thing she said, however, was that nowhere in the parameters for determinging awards like the Newbery is it stated that a book must appeal to actual children to win an award. Considering that librarians and teachers use these awards to select books for students, this is somewhat of a problem.
There was also a large discussion of manga, which we were told we should have because children want them and will read them. I am not averse to manga but haven't found a lot that I found worthwhile.
Is there a happy medium between what children want (manga) and what the awards tell us to buy (Higher Power of Lucky, Criss Cross, neither of which should ever be handed to anyone, much less a reluctant reader)? How about something like Jordan Sonnenblick's Notes from the Midnight Driver? Covering serious issues and well-written but also (*GASP*) vastly appealing to students.
In answer to the comments from A.C.: There are not many manga at our school because they are expensive and don't wear well. There are a few, as well as some graphic history and biography books. Diary of a Wimpy Kid does have a lot of pictures, but a text story as well.