During this short intermission between voting and announcing the winner along with next year’s nominees, we thought we might outline our process for choosing books for the award program for those curious to know. It mostly involves reading, and lots of it! This year, we read dozens of books to find just the right ones. But, there is more to it than that…
Part of the trick to the reading is finding books to read in the first place. Wandering around the library is one way we’ve been known to find a book or two, but we also do a lot of research online and try to stay current on new books coming out in the area of juvenile literature. Once we have the books in hand, we read them on our own, have our kids read them, and/or read them aloud to our families.
We have maintained our focus on middle grade fiction. “Middle grade” is a general term used to refer to books that are written and appropriate for ages 8ish and up. We look for books that will be accessible to younger readers, but that will also hold the interest of older readers. And, if that sounds kind of tricky, you’re right!
Part of our mission when we created the book award was to highlight recently published books that have homeschool characters or demonstrate kids learning in situations outside the typical classroom setting. So, we’re always on the lookout for those books that we think will resonate with homeschoolers.
We are partial to books that are particularly well-written, introduce interesting ideas or perspectives, or are unique in some way from other books. Books that plant seeds of things to learn more about later and offer lots of ways for readers to connect with the story after the reading is finished are at a premium for us as well.
Finally, as our list comes together, we try to balance our four choices with one another–male versus female protagonists, book lengths, appeal to older versus younger readers, and lots of other harder to define factors. We read, discuss, debate, and repeat until it all somehow comes together in the end.
It is hard work, but we love it and we’re very excited about the books we chose for our next year. We hope you’ll love them as much as we do!