The Cooperative Children’s Book Center: Choices Day 2019
On March 2nd, I had the pleasure of attending the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s annual Choices Day in Madison. This event celebrates the publication of CCBC Choices, an annual best-of-the-year listed created by the CCBC librarians. I love Choices Day, because it’s just fun to watch some of the nation’s foremost experts on children’s literature absolutely gush about the books they loved from the past year.
Distinguished Special Librarian (and CCBC Director) K.T. Horning began by sharing a few of the kidlit publishing trends that the CCBC librarians noticed in 2018. Of note were an increase in diverse books that are, as K.T. put it, “by people who have lived the lives of stories they’re telling.” The librarians were especially impressed by the great crop of diverse debut authors, and they were also excited by what they called a “renaissance of middle grade fiction.”
Next came the traditional “Is it a book?” portion of the presentation, in which K.T. shared a few of the oddest items the CCBC receives from publishers. First prize for weirdest went to the actual potato (complete with stamp!) that was intended to promote a picture book called, naturally, POTATO PANTS.
Seeing the wacky marketing gimmicks was fun, but the best part of the presentation came next, when the librarians introduced us to a few of their favorite books published in 2018. The current edition of CCBCChoices features 258 books, but only 28 were highlighted on Choices Day.
It was really remarkable to hear the librarians talk about the books they loved. Their descriptions elicited laughter, gasps, groans, and many other displays of emotion from the audience. We were also treated to a few short read-alouds. (They really could call the event “Storytime for Grownups.”)
But the reason I attend Choices Day each year is to hear about excellent titles that escaped my notice. As usual, the librarians came through. Here are a few I’ll be seeking out solely because the CCBC librarians convinced me of their greatness:
- ALL THAT TRASH by Meghan McCarthy
- DRAGONS IN A BAG by Zetta Elliott
- FAKE BLOOD by Whitney Gardner
- BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCollough
I highly recommend paging through CCBC Choices 2019, asI know you’ll find many books to add to your list. To get a free copy, consider joining the Friends of the CCBC. Find more information here: https://www.ccbcfriends.org/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
Maria Parrott-Ryan has an MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has published several nonfiction articles in Cricket Media’s MUSE magazine. She was the recipient of SCBWI-WI’s 2018 middle-grade mentorship.