Tuesday, February 21, 2012

BOOKS THAT CHANGE LIVES

So, I admit that I bought 2 copies of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS the day that it was released.  I was really looking forward to this book.  So was my 21 year old daughter. And I really wasn't in the mood to share this one. And I figured having two would allow me to share it with lots of people. Anyway, I read the book and loved it.  I couldn't even start another book for a while because of the impact it had on me.

I decided I wanted my husband to read it. My husband reads a lot. He reads James Patterson, Harlan Coben, Dan Brown. He reads a bazillion sports blogs and anything Phillies. He reads tech articles and tech magazines.  But I decided it was time that he read a book that would change him. So I recommended THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and told him it was time for him to start reading books that changed him.  He rolled his eyes but picked up the book.  He read the first few chapters and I asked, "So, has it changed you yet?"  He said, "No,"

My 12 year old (who had not read the book) jumped right in, "It had to have changed you by now!!" We proceeded by asking him lots of questions.  We asked him if he met some characters that were different from people he knew in life.  We asked him if he understood anything about a character that might help him understand someone else someday. We asked him if it made him think about something he had never thought about. Or made him think of something that had ever happened to him with new insight.....Of course he said yes.  Of course the book had already changed him.  He read the book quickly and quietly and although he is not one to talk as much as I do (hah!), I know it changed him and I predict he will read more life-changing books in the near future.

This all happened in January.  As we were all anxiously awaiting the announcements of the ALA Youth Media Awards. As I was waiting for the award announcements I had already decided that THE FAULT IN OUR STARS had to win something big NEXT January. How could it not?

Then I read WONDER by R.J. Palacio and THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherin Applegate.  Two more unbelievable books that changed me. Books that I will never forget.

What a lucky month January was. Three books that will live with me for a very very long time.  Three books that I want to tell everyone about. Three books that truly changed me. New characters who I came to love and who I think about often, long after finishing their stories.

These books have already touched so many readers in so many ways. Teri Lesesne wrote about THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and Colby Sharp shared his thinking about WONDER.

So, I have been thinking about the awards and the disappointment that often goes along with the announcements. I know that I always hope for those books that have had a powerful impact on me to win and I am often sad when they don't. (Although I do get over it and I often see new things in the books that do win and usually acknowledge that they too, are amazing books:-)

But I am rethinking my approach to the awards from now on. I will always love the ALA awards, but I think this January's reading helped me to realize that although the awards are nice, the books that didn't win anything, still had a powerful impact on me and on so many other people. Award or no award, those books matter incredibly.  Nothing can change the power they have to change lives.

So, 11 months before ALA announcements in 2013, I am already anticipating a few books I hope to see on award lists. And I am assuming (from my history) that a few of the books I fall in love with will not be awarded anything.  But I am also realizing that some books are so amazing that it really doesn't matter if they win an award or not. The power they have to change lives is what matters most.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for putting into words my feelings on The Fault in Our Stars. I read it a week ago and couldn't quite describe how it impacted me. "Life changing" is perfect.

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  2. I'm obsessed with The Fault in Our Stars and WONDER, and IVAN for that matter. It has been an excellent start to my reading year this year.

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  3. There were other books read last year that were exclaimed over and those that I loved that changed me & that I feel will present others with new ideas & experiences so I will continue to share them, & they weren't on the awards list. I hear you!

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  4. An award does nothing to change the impact a book has had on a reader. An award can heighten people's awareness of books they may not otherwise come across. I think this is a great conversation to have with students so they can understand that the 'best' books don't necessarily win an award.

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