Yesterday the IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) announced this year’s winners for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. If you aren’t familiar with the award, the goal is to celebrate authors and illustrators who help promote understanding through children’s books and give children access to book with high literary and artistic standards.
The winners this year were illustrator Albertine and author Jacqueline Woodson! I have to admit that I know very little about Albertine but I do have a tendency to fan girl over Woodson. Here are three reasons you need to know her work and that I am thrilled to see Woodson win this award.
She reads slow. In her TED talk, Woodson admits that she takes her time when she experiences a book. Whether a reader does this intentially or simply because they are a slow reader, they need a champion. Woodson discusses how slow reading allows her to connect with the story and respect the narrative and the author.
She’s an introvert who is willing to step out of that particular narrative. When Woodson was asked to be the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a Library of Congress post, she hesitated to accept. But then she decided to not only take the position but to spend it connecting with those who often do not have a voice, young people in detention centers and the rural South.
Her varied body of work. If you don’t know Woodson’s work, check it out. She’s written poetry and in prose. Picture books and middle grade novels. Her work is as varied as the young readers looking for their next favorite book or the writers looking for inspiration. I think my favorite is Harbor Me. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m giving you the publisher’s description: When six students are chosen to participate in a weekly talk with no adults allowed, they discover that when they’re together, it’s safe to share the hopes and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world.
Do you have a favorite Woodson title? Share it in the comments below.