Name the Best

It’s the season for the People’s Choice Awards, the ALA Youth Media Awards, and the announcement of the nominees for the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. Public and school libraries looking for ideas for programming might consider pulling ideas from these much-anticipated events. Children and young adults may already participate in the book-award programs in their state or in mock Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz award-selection groups.

Let’s take the award season a bit further and encourage readers to make their choices for best book and best character in categories named by readers. They may select genres like historical fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction, science fiction, or nonfiction. It may be fun to narrow the categories to specific themes and topics.

Have readers write a nomination for each suggested category. Post the nominations on the school and public library websites to engage other readers in the school and community. Here are suggestions from Random House:


Betty Goes Bananas (picture book) by Steve Antony

While You Were Napping (picture book) by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Barry Blitt

Freckle Juice (elementary) by Judy Blume

Family Ties (middle grade) by Gary Paulsen

Death by Toilet Paper (middle grade) by Donna Gephart

Flush (middle grade) by Carl Hiaasen

7 Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes (young adult) by Amber Kizer

Andromeda Klein (young adult) by Frank Portman


Doug Unplugs on the Farm (picture book) by Dan Yaccarino

In New York (picture book) by Marc Brown

The $25,000 Flight (Totally True Adventures) (elementary) by Lori Haskins Houran and illustrated by Wesley Lowe

Chomp (middle grade) by Carl Hiaasen

Navigating Early (middle grade) by Clare Vanderpool

Boys of Blur (middle grade) by N. D. Wilson

The Living (young adult) by Matt de la Peña


Puss in Boots (picture book) by Kathryn Jackson and illustrated by J. P. Miller

Emma and the Blue Genie (elementary) by Cornelia Funke and illustrated by Kerstin Meyer

A Matter-of-Fact Magic Book: The Witch at the Window (elementary) by Ruth Chew

Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle (middle grade) by George Hagen

Unmade (young adult) by Sarah Rees Brennan


Anatole (picture book) by Eve Titus

The Little Island (picture book) by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard

Harriet the Spy (middle grade) by Louise Fitzhugh

Where the Red Fern Grows (middle grade) by Wilson Rawls

A Day No Pigs Would Die (young adult) by Robert Newton Peck

I Am the Cheese (young adult) by Robert Cormier

Best Series

Junie B. Jones (early reader) by Barbara Park

Babymouse (elementary) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Alvin Ho (elementary) by Lenore Look and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Calvin Coconut (elementary) by Graham Salisbury

Cheesie Mack (elementary) by Steve Cotler

Jackson Jones (elementary) by Mary Quattlebaum

The Boys and Girls (middle grade) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Sammy Keyes (young adult) by Wendelin van Draanen

Most Admired Character

Ida Lewis from The Bravest Woman in America (picture book) by Marissa Moss and illustrated by Andrea U’Ren

The boy from Paperboy (middle grade) by Vince Vawter

Clare Silver from Laugh with the Moon (middle grade) by Shana Burg

Auggie Pullman from Wonder (middle grade) by R. J. Palacio

Kenny from The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 (middle grade) by Christopher Paul Curtis

Andi Alpers from Revolution (young adult) by Jennifer Donnelly

Jerry from The Chocolate War (young adult) by Robert Cormier

Hattie Brooks from Hattie Big Sky and Hattie Ever After (young adult) by Kirby Larson

Random House Teachers and Librarians