The Cybils are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literacy Awards, and they recognize authors and illustrators whose books combine literary merit and popular appeal. For the past two years, I’ve had the privilege to serve as a Cybils judge for poetry. It’s been so much fun! The best part, of course, are the books. I’ve read some truly amazing poetry. As a second-round judge, I read only the books that the first-round readers selected for the second round. Last year, that meant we got to read Kwame Alexander, Nikki Grimes, David Elliott, Michelle Schaub, Chris Harris, Margarita Engle, and J. Patrick Lewis. Amazing, right?
Almost as fun as the reading, though, is the discussion. With a group of incredibly thoughtful and experienced poets, teachers, and librarians, we discussed the pros and cons of each book, eventually (with some hand-wringing and last-minute angst) working our way into a final selection. The final joy of the process is getting to shout from the rooftops about the winner, knowing that your efforts are going to help get a wonderful book in the hands of more kids. You can see a list of all the 2017 winners here.
Applications to become a Cybils judge will open later this month. Check the website or follow @Cybils on Twitter so that you don’t miss it. If you aren’t up for serving as a judge, though, you can still take part by nominating books for the award. Nominations will open in early October. There are categories for picture books, easy readers, middle grade, and young adult, in addition to poetry, and for non-fiction, speculative fiction, and graphic novels. Nominate books in as many categories as inspire you, as a broad selection of books only enhances the awards process. The book needs to have been published in English in 2018 in the United States or Canada. Full rules on nominating are here. It’s a great way to get the word out about a book you love. And as an incorrigible book pusher, I think you can’t get much better than that.
Kate Hillyer is a middle grade writer and occasional poet. She blogs here and at The Winged Pen, and has been known to interrupt perfect strangers mid-conversation so that she can recommend books to them. She served as a Cybils judge for poetry in 2016 and 2017. You can find Kate online at www.katehillyer.com and on Twitter as @SuperKate.