"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, May 26, 2013

To complete the Printz Challenge or not, that is the question?

Eight years ago as a rookie teen librarian I decided to attempt to read all the Printz Award and Honor books. Looking for Alaska by John Green, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Fat Kid Rules the World by KL Going were all award recipients and some of my favorite YA books. By the time I decided to read ALL the Printz books I had about 30 back books to read to catch up. Then all I would have to do was read the year's winners to stay current. It seemed very doable. After working on the it for about five years I've whittled down the past books to about 15. I've also read all the winning titles for the past four years.

But now I am questioning if I really want to continue the Printz Challenge or wonder if it is time to give up on reading the past books.  Why would I consider abandoning the project now?

Well, the reason relates to my recent reading selection. Today I finished reading Freewill by Chris Lynch. It was an honor book in 2002. The book was so confusing and difficult to read I will never, ever recommend it to any student. I wish this Publishers Weekly review had come to my attention before I struggled through it: "...this airless novel does not reward the effort to penetrate it." Hmm, guess I wasn't the only one that didn't like it.

The book is about a boy who was having a mental breakdown related to his unresolved grief over the death/suicide of his father. In addition to not liking the storyline, I started to question the relevance of the book published in 2001. Of the 15 books left to catch up with the challenge, most were published before 2005. Even if I like these novels they will be tough sells to my students just based on the publishing dates.  Why should I spend time reading YA books that won't bring benefit to my readership?

I want to stay up with current winners but I'm not sure if my heart is in it anymore to go back and read past winners. What do you think?  Should I abandon or stick with my Printz Challenge?
I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts.


  1. I think you should keep up with the current winners and not worry about the past winners. That said, I just looked at the list of past winners and if you haven't read First Part Last by Angela Johnson or Monster by Walter Dean Myers I would definitely read those. Our students love those two!

    1. You are right about Monster. Boys still like that book and ask for one just like it when they are done with it. Of the books I have left, I've actually tried reading about five of them and abandoned them for a variety of reasons thinking I'd come back to them later which I never did. I know one is out-of-print and my public library doesn't have a copy. That's a pretty big sign, don't you think?

  2. This is a project I've been thinking about undertaking. I've enjoyed many of the Printz books I've read so far, but I'd like to keep up with it and read some of the previous books. I know it would be a lot of work, but I think it would be worth it. I have a tendency to want to read award winners to see what all the buzz is about. I would say stick with it. Don't let one bad book ruin what could be several great books. It would be a shame to miss out on something amazing.

    1. It's a toughy for me. I looked over the list a few days ago and decided that there still are a few that I really want to read that I haven't gotten to yet. Perhaps you are right not to let one bad apple spoil the whole thing for me. Even if I take a break for a while, I can always go back and work on the list again after the bad taste is out of my mouth.


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