Reflections on Turning 18

Thank you. 

We wouldn’t be the Children’s and Young Adult Book Lovers’ Awards without you. You are what brings us to this, our eighteenth year. The CYBILS began in 2005 with an idea held in common by a small group of bloggers:

Why couldn’t children’s book awards be more inclusive, more broadly representative, and thus more meaningful?

Why couldn’t readers like us make our voices heard and enable others to speak up on behalf of books they loved, and which had meaning for them? 

Childhood reading is nurtured by parents, teachers, and librarians who encourage young minds to tap into their insatiable curiosity, as well as figure out the world and how they fit in it. Giving everyone the opportunity to celebrate children’s literature is, at its heart, a simple idea. 

The world has changed, since that initial, simple idea. A lot. Blogs as we knew them in 2005 are no longer the primary source for book recommendations. Social media is where book buzz reverberates. New grassroots organizations are ensuring there is more representation in the publishing industry and, by extension, youth literature. As adults have come to claim YA and children’s books as their own, book challenges and outright bans have increased. Rather than embrace all that books offer, these adults use the lever of government to promote a slanted, politically-motivated agenda. 

cybils missionIf reading is universal, shouldn’t celebrating books be equally so? 

Tomorrow we kick off our 18th annual awards with the Call for Judges. Turning 18 is an important milestone. It is a moment to pause, reflect on where we’ve been, and celebrate who we have become. When an American citizen turns 18 they gain the right to vote. They earn the freedom to use their voice, represent who they are, what they value, and make their own choices. 

… and protect the rights of others to make choices, too. We can protect the right to read by voting to keep or remove from office those who want to use power to eliminate equal access to all kinds of books for all kinds of readers. Together, we can ensure all voices are heard, seen, and represented. Current, loud efforts to ban access to books reinforce the need for all of us to lend our voices to inclusion. 

Rest assured, that in 18 years our core values have not changed. We will continue to recognize exceptional literature for young audiences that offers positive representation, diverse voices, and inclusion. We will fight to ensure children and teens have choices, access to books that represent them and their lived experiences, and the ability to choose those books for themselves.

Thank you, again. We would not be here without your continued participation, support, and encouragement.

Representation, diversity, inclusion, and the freedom of book choice are as important to us as they are to you. We are grateful for your passion and activism: for fREADom and reading choice for young audiences.

With deep appreciation,

The Board of Directors