September 20, 2011

It's ok to not like that (award-winning) book.

Today I had a brief conversation with a teen. I looked at the book the teen was planning on reading, and saw it was an award-winner. I made the comment that I'd heard good things about that particular book, paused, then said "Oh, it's an award-winner." The teen said, "Yeah that's why I picked it."

I then said that not all award-winning books are good books. I then regretted saying that simply because I didn't have enough time to give my whole meaning. I meant this; not all award-winning books will appeal to all teens. Same as any and all books that exist. One person can rant while another person can rave.

I love lists from ALA that list which books are best for Reluctant Readers and awards that are given to YA novels. But, they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reading. Award-winning books should be the jumping off point which leads the child, at least, to more books of the same genre or written by the same author. In school however, teachers and students may rely just a little too much on that shiny award sticker on the book before learning what the book is about.

Just because the book won an award doesn't mean that every child who picks it up will like it. But what if the reader, like me, reads a book that's an award winner and doesn't like it or just can't get into it? Shouldn't these students know it's ok to not like the book? It's an award-winning book so I'm sure the writing it well thought out. I'm sure the characters are well-rounded, and I'm sure that the book is a well written piece of art. I know I've personally been in the position where I read an award-winning book, look at the sticker, look at the book, and think "I just don't like it. What's wrong with me?"

There was a panel of people who read that book. Who judged it on its merits and decided that it was good enough to deserve, out of perhaps hundreds of books, a shiny sticker on it's cover stating how wonderful that book was...And I didn't like it. I know when I was young I felt that I was missing something. I guess when she said that her reason for picking a book was because of its award sticker I had the immediate need to tell her "It's ok to not like it."

Because it is.

Have you ever read an award-winner you just plain didn't like?

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