Best Books for Children: Behind the Music (er, Catalog)

It’s that time of year again: time to nominate books to be featured in the ABC Best Books for Children catalog. This is a catalog you’ve probably seen in our store; perhaps you’ve taken one home with you. It’s published annually by the Association of Booksellers for Children, which is a non-profit organization representing independent (i.e., not chain) bookstores that specialize in books for young people.

In late summer every year, members stores across the nation (including Spellbound) nominate the books that we love the most from the current calendar year. Some of these books will already be great sellers, and some will be books that we love and believe in and want to see become great sellers. We especially try to spotlight books from newer authors and small, independent presses, although you will see a very healthy mix of books from authors (and publishers) both big and small.

Ever wondered how something like that is put together? Well, it is not one of those deals where a publisher can choose to push Book X and pay lots of money to have it in the catalog. When our final wish list of books is chosen, based on the amount of votes by member stores, ABC staff then contacts the publisher of each book, who may then choose to support the book(s) from their publishing house by helping pay for the catalog.  Having the publishers pay the printing costs makes sure that ABC, which is non-profit and on an extremely small budget, can afford to produce the catalog in a way that is affordable for its members, and that we can then afford to give them away liberally to the book-loving public.

So how does the nomination process work? It’s very open-ended, which means lots of work for the staff compiling the catalog book list, but which also ensures that it is by no means a cookie-cutter process. Basically, it’s all write-in votes. Member stores are asked to send in our favorites books in each of several categories. The only restriction is that the book has to have been published (in the case of this fall’s upcoming catalog) in 2009. Of course, it’s still summer, so we are nominating not only books that are out right now but also those that are going to be published in the fall. (This is where galleys or Advance Reading Copies come in very handy!)

I won’t submit you to my entire list, but here are a couple of my nominations from each category. I’ll be curious to see how many of them end up in the final product.

If you have favorites (published in 2009) in any of these categories that you’d like to share, comment on the post and share them! Nominations for the catalog are already closed, but it’s always good to find out what titles have folks excited.

Babies and Toddlers
Have You Ever Tickled a Tiger? by Betsy Snyder
Good Egg by Barney Saltzberg

Picture Books
Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies by Ammi-Joan Paquette
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

Early Readers
Elephants Cannot Dance! by Mo Willems
Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss

Middle grade
Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry
Top of the Order by John Coy

Coffehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors
Liar by Justine Larbalestier
Lady Macbeth’s Daughter by Lisa Klein

Great and Graphic
Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight

Non-Fiction Favorites
A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Fun for All (Activities, Novelty & Notable Parenting)
Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee MacLean


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