Children’s Choice and Popular CulturePosted: June 10, 2013
As discussed in my previous post Laws and Orders, popular culture is alive and kicking in my school library. In an analysis of the top most circulated books, it is (not all that surprisingly) revealed that Diary of a Wimpy Kid titles grab six of the top ten spots.
But as I reflect on these results, I know that this set of statistics only tells part of the story. And so I cast the net a little further to analyze the top 25 titles. Might this be more enlightening? Happily, I can report that it is. I can’t deny that the Wimpy Kid still rules. He owns seven of the top 25 slots. Lucky seven is also the number, however, of Northborough-Southborough Children’s Book Award (NSCBA) choices in the top twenty-five. And this is music to a librarian’s ears. Because these titles often march to the beat of different drums—drums that beat out messages slightly more profound than found between the pages of a Greg Heffley diary.
NSCBA is our local Children’s Choice Award, an annual collaboration of two school districts and two public libraries. Each year a librarian-curated list of books, designed to appeal to students in grades 3-5, is created and multiple copies of the books are purchased. The books are then publicized, booktalked, promo’ed, hyped and recommended by the librarians at first, but soon among the students themselves. This is the flip side to the Wimpy Kid phenomena; most of these selections were chosen for their more literary qualities and, surprise (!), the students are borrowing these books in record numbers as well. And participating in the program by voting for their favorites.
I am happy to announce this year’s winners:
1st place-Wonder by R. J. Palacio
2nd place-Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
3rd place-Binky to the Rescue by Ashley Spires, Eight Keys by Suzanne La Fleur, Pie by Sarah Weeks (Yes, a three way tie!)
With the exception of Binky, these are meaty, challenging titles and yet, they were just as “popular” as the “Wimpy One”. As Ranganathan said, “Every book its reader.” Or in this case “readers”!