Last month I had the most fun, doing the nerdiest thing since becoming a librarian: I participated in my first Mock Printz discussion. Fourteen YA librarians met for a morning of great books, amazing discussion and criminal amounts of fun. Afterward I realized how easy organizing a Mock Printz discussion would be. All you need is group that loves YA literature, librarians, teens, or your monthly book club and these easy steps.
Step #1: Make a Reading List
This is a daunting task, even for someone like me who reads many books through out the year. Luckily, besides pulling on your memory, there are other places to find books that got starred reviews or landed on the various best of lists. The Hub, of course, is a great stop for finding well reviewed titles and also analysis and interesting break downs of the “best of” lists. Largehearted Boy amazingly collected just about every best of list that exists. School Library Journal‘s Someday My Printz Will Come blog (great name!) has been collecting possible Printz contenders all year. Asking your favorite group of teens is one more way of crafting a well-round list.
Select about five to six titles and share them in advance with your group. It’s important to do this well ahead of time so everyone has a chance to acquire the titles and time to read them.
Step #2: Host a Discussion
This is where a group “passionate about YA literature” comes into play. They can easily talk about what makes a great YA novel worthy of the Printz. But it’s also helpful to remind the group of the eligibility requirements and criteria. YALSA suggests these criteria which are not exhaustive, but are a great place to start the discussion of what constitutes the best in terms of literary merit.
- Design (including format, organization, etc.)
Step #3: VOTE!
This is where the real fun begins. After you’ve campaigned tirelessly for your top pick now it’s time to see which of the shortlist will come out on top. Have paper and pen ready for people to write their first, second and third choice. Tally the votes with all first place titles receiving five points, second place three points and third place one point. Make a ranked list. Share.
Step #4 to ?: VOTE AGAIN!
To win the real Printz Award, a title must have at least five first place votes and have at least five more points than the second place title. During the real committee this could take a long time and many rounds of voting. In the interest of speeding things along your group can decide to select the first round winner as the champ and call it a day or be super official and follow proper procedures.
Step Last: Declare a Winner
Take a moment to celebrate or commiserate on your favorite title’s success. This is also a good time to chat about other titles that have come out since you’ve created your list or have been overlooked by the usual review sources. Shake hands, bid farewell and look forward to doing it again next year.
Tips for Success
- Include at least one dark horse or indie in your reading list because you never know.
- Ignore trends or “what won last year.” There’s a new committee each year with new perspectives.
- Don’t forget the coffee and snacks.
Has anyone else participated in a Mock Printz Discussion before? What are some things you think make for a successful discussion? What are your frontrunners for this year’s award? (For my group’s list and award winner please see the comments.)
— Amanda Margis, currently reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and listening to Life Itself: A Memoir by Roger Ebert