I love comics and graphic novels and have been reading them since, well, forever. So it just warms my little librarian heart to see so many graphic titles announced at this year's YMAs (Youth Media Awards), or as some of us refer to them, the Librarian Oscars. And, for the first time in its history, the Newbery Medal was awarded to a graphic novel: Jerry Craft's wonderful New Kid.
This is a big deal! Comics have long been absent from literature awards, or not even considered. They have often been thought of by educators and caregivers as "something fun to read at home", but "not real reading," and not worthy of a book report or lesson plan. Why do picture books garner respect for only a short period of time? Why are they thought of as a tool to help children learn to read, but once that child begins reading chapter books and beyond, the legitimacy fades and turns to derision? Hopefully, with this year's YMAs we will see a major shift in that kind of thinking. Below are the graphic novels that won big in 2020.
Graphic Novel Award Winners - 2020:
- Alex Award: Gender Queer: A Memoir, by Maia Kobabe and In Waves, by AJ Dungo
- The American Indian Youth Literature Award - Young Adult Book Honor: Surviving the City, written by Tasha Spillett, illustrated by Natasha Donovan
- Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature - Children: Stargazing by Jen Wang
- Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature - Young Adult: They Called Us Enemy, written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, illustrated by Harmony Becker
- Coretta Scott King (Author) Book: New Kid by Jerry Craft
- John Newbery Medal: New Kid by Jerry Craft
- Odyssey Award: Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction written by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and narrated by the author, Jeanne Birdsall, Jenna Lamia, Richard Ferrone and a full cast
- Printz Award - Honor Book: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
- The Sydney Taylor Book Award: White Bird by R. J. Palacio
Additionally, YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Organization) publishes a yearly reading list with a top ten of great graphic novels for teens. The list is a valuable tool for librarians and educators looking to grow their graphic novel collections, and for everyone who wants to find their next favorite read. I had the honor of leading the team of librarians that chose the 2020 list.
We selected titles that reflect the diverse populations we serve, as well as showcasing the ever-growing number of inclusive, and educational books (with pictures!). Check out the top ten or any of these award wining titles from the library today!