Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kid lit community in uproar

we're all would-be characters in a bookless dystopia 

As you probably know, after all the excitement over the ALA awards for children's fiction this week, the Today Show elected not to feature the customary interviews with the Caldecott and Newbery Award winners, Erin Stead and Clare Vanderpool. Instead, they opted to talk to Snooki - the new age darling of the reality TV show, Jersey Shore - who's also written a book (A Shore Thing). In reaction, Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser of the SCBWI sent an eloquent letter to the producers of the Today Show, making an impassioned case for the importance of children's literature. 

With bookstores floundering and publishers slashing, this was one more piece of evidence contributing to the notion that we're witnessing the demise of books - or at least a notion that books of literary merit are losing respect. That's why it wasn't too much of a surprise to read this week that Governor Jerry Brown is proposing a new budget that would eliminate state funding for California libraries.

I'm starting to think we're all would be characters in a dystopian future novel where ALA is an obscure acronym, libraries are closed seven days a week, and books are quaint artifacts.

Until then, congratulations to the ALA award winners! I'll be adding some of those titles to my reading list. And hats off to Snooki! There's one book that's sure to be a bestseller.

Your thoughts on any of this? Please share.

12 comments:

Julie Musil said...

It's a sad state of affairs. Shouldn't actual writers be featured? I think it's safe to say she didn't actually write the book.

Congratulations to the real winners of literature.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

All of this breaks my heart. Books have brought so much wonder and knowledge to kids (and adults), and libraries have been available to everyone, no matter how poor.
But I understand what Brown is doing. Just about everything is slashed in his budget, because the state is about to go under. The financial situation in this country and the world is worthy of a dystopian novel.
Even so, the Today show could've taken the high road.

Pen and Ink said...

Snooki, The Today Show and all their anti-intellectual fops can kiss my #$%#&*! and take their @#$&# and @#$%&! up their @#$%&!
Sincerely,
Speechless

Jemi Fraser said...

Yikes - definite signs of the apocalypse! No funding for libraries is horrific!

Laurie L Young said...

I don't want to take anything away from Snooki—why shouldn't she have her 15 minutes? But on a separate issue, the Today show choosing to not have the award winners come on the show does not bode well for our society and what it values. I am very disheartened and I think, more than writing letters to the Today show, perhaps we should be writing letters to GMA and CBS's morning show letting them know they have an opportunity to best their competition. And where was Al Roker in all this? Shouldn't his "book club" be featuring these writers?

Dolores J said...

I've watched the TODAY show for more years than I can remember (at least the first two hours). It was a miracle that something as substantive as the winners of the Caldecotts and Newberrys ever got on the show all those previous years since the were not Hollywood actors or actresses. Now, I guess, it's reality stars who are considered the most important contributors to our culture.

Lee Rae said...

I will never watch the Today Show again after this. It's irresponsible and totally mindless of them to showcase Snooki’s book. All she knows how to pronounce and maybe spell are cuss words. This is the lowest of the lowest form of writing and it’s just the beginning of the year. (((sigh))

Megan Frances said...

Thank you Julie, Tricia, Speechless, Jemi, Laurie, Dolores and Lee Rae, for contributing to this discussion. I agree with all of you! It is a sad state of affairs, indeed.

I have nothing against Snooki either, but as a journalist and former newspaper editor, I believe The Today Show made a misguided news decision. Even if they needed to trot out Snooki for the ratings, they could have waited for another day. Interviews with the Newbery and Caldecott winners were more newsworthy for one thing, and, secondly, those books are destined to become part of the canon of children's literature. Snooki - on the other hand - is just a 15-minute phenomenon.

As for the state of our libraries - what a distressing situation. All of this makes me appreciate the wonderful and supportive kid lit community even more.

Sharon K. said...

I've noticed the Today Show's descent into banality for a while now. I usually have it on while I read the paper during breakfast and sometimes it's painful to watch ( I don't have cable).
Speaking of a bookless dystopian future, if you have time for an adult novel, I highly recommend "Super Sad True Love Story" By Gary Sheynhart. Great writing and a great laugh, too. Actually, in some parts, you don't know whether to laugh or cry (for us book lovers). Enjoy!

Megan Frances said...

Thanks so much for coming back to post your comment, Sharon. I haven't watched the Today Show in a long time, but the banal trend doesn't surprise me given that NBC is struggling.

I'll look for, "Super Sad True Love Story." I always like recommendations for good books, especially if laughter could be involved.

Jacqui said...

I completely agree with the irrationality of the new interview. What were they thinking? On the other hand, I think reading is actually rising, thanks to ebooks. People like reading with those little digital gadgets and it's inspiring more of that old-fashioned activity. I haven't bought one yet, but I'm considering it. What do you think?

Megan Frances said...

I agree, Jacqui, I think reading is on the rise too. As for e-books, I have a Kindle and I really like it, especially for travel, but I still like conventional books too.