Each year for me one of the most exciting lists of books to read is the California Young Reader's Medal. More reflective of the favorites of children than the Newbery or Caldecott or other prestigious awards selected by committees of adults, these are books nominated by librarians, teachers, bookstores, even children and young adults, anyone who works with children, and the books are chosen by the votes of the children themselves. There are five categories: Primary, Intermediate, Middle School/Junior High, Young Adult, and Picture book for Older Readers. And there are three books nominated in each category except for the primary which has five. Nominations open in February of each year, schools and libraries or other organizations with interest in literacy organize voting by ballot, and children who have read all the books in each category may vote in that category. Winners are announced in April each year.
Following this list over the years has provided me with so many titles of excellent books to recommend to all ages of young readers. In recent years Hunger Games, Matched and Every Soul a Star which have been reviewed on Book Talk have had early attention on the CYRM nomination lists. I am currently reading The Giant Slayer which was a 2013 winner and a most compelling book about a lonely young girl's storytelling friendship with a boy in an iron lung and others in his hospital ward during the pre-polio vaccine frightening days of the nineteen-fifities.
Primary and Intermediate nominations this past year include Interrupting Chicken and A Nest for Celeste. And who can forget past winners and nominees such as Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type, Thundercake or Stellaluna. These are the books that children will love, books that stay popular year after year.
With summer coming, now is the time for kids to read for fun and there is a wealth of ideas with all these lists of books going back to 1976. So if you don't know what to recommend to children, you might just begin with the CRYM lists found here.