For any book lover out there, Dr. Renee Lyons of East Tennessee State University, is the epitome of goals.
Lyons, who is the coordinator for the ETSU school library media program and an assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the Clemmer College of Education, has spent the past year reading over 100 books. This task is part of her role as a committee member for the Alex Book Award. She has been on this committee for two years.
The Alex Book Award, which has been around for 20 years, is an annual award given by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association.
Each year 10 books are chosen to be recipients. According to the Alex Awards website, these books are written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year’s publishing.
According to Lyons, the committee’s choice to include 10 picks is for two main reasons.
“Firstly, adult fiction and non-fiction publishing is booming; there are so many books to consider each year,” she said. “Secondly, we want to encourage and promote reading amongst this age group, for many times promotion efforts are targeted for elementary students, but not for students in grades 7-12.”
According to Lyons, the focus is on this particular age range because reading levels vary widely in it. Individuals in this age range need books that will challenge reading and critical thinking abilities because they will soon be pursuing a higher education.
Books are nominated when a committee member reads a proposed title, determines if the book meets the award criteria and if it does, completes an official nomination form.
Winners for 2017 included texts, “The Queen of Blood” by Sarah Beth Durst, The Regional Office is Under Attack!” by Manuel Gonzales and “In the Country We Love: My Family Divided” by Diane Guerrero with Michelle Burford. The full list is provided on the award’s website.
To anyone hoping for a spoiler about winners or who a committee member’s favorites are, Lyons said it isn’t going to happen.
“I cannot discuss these matters at this time for confidentiality purposes,” she said. “Committee members cannot mention books read, favorites, and so forth even after the award presentation is made.”
While she can not reveal her picks, the award’s website provides a full list of nominees from previous years.
The winners will be announced at the American Library Association Youth Media Awards on Feb. 12. This can watched in real-time online.
Winners of the award will have a seal placed on their book to show its status as a winner of the national award.
For a book lover like Lyon’s, she defines her relationship of books as one of hope.
“Stories provide the hope necessary to the perpetuation of life itself, as well as to the improvement of humanity’s lot,” she said.
More information about the Alex Award can be found at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/alex-awards.