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Plot Twist: The Newbery May Dampen Kids' Reading

The Newbery Medal has been the gold standard in children's literature for more than eight decades. On the January day when the annual winner is announced, bookstores nationwide sell out, libraries clamor for copies and teachers add the work to lesson plans.

Now the literary world is debating the Newbery's value, asking whether the books that have won recently are so complicated and inaccessible to most children that they are effectively turning off kids to reading. Of the 25 winners and runners-up chosen from 2000 to 2005, four of the books deal with death, six with the absence of one or both parents and four with such mental challenges as autism. Most of the rest deal with tough social issues.

"I can't help but believe that thousands, even millions, more children would grow up reading if the Newbery committee aimed to spotlight books that are deep and beautiful and irresistible to kids," said Lucy Calkins, founding director of the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University's Teachers College and a professor of children's literature.

The article "Plot Twist: The Newbery May Dampen Kids' Reading" was published on December 16th in the "Washington Post" http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/15/AR2008121503293_2.html?hpid=sec-artsliving




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