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GA Peach Book Award for Teen Readers–Winners & Nominees Announced

On March 31st at the Kennesaw Children’s Literature Conference secondary day lunch, members of the Peach Committee shared the results of the 2010-2011 voting and the nominees vying for the awards for the 2011-2012 school year. Without further ado, here they are:

GA Peach Book Award Winner for 2011


GA Peach Honor Book 2011

Be on the lookout for teaching materials and new information on these nominees for 2011-2012 at This is the new site on which we do the online voting that was rolled out for the first time this year. We were pleased with the response and will continue to refine and improve the process.




The Georgia Peach Book Awards for Teen Readers 2011-2012 Booklist

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

With his mother working long hours and in pain from a romantic break-up, eighteen-year-old Logan feels alone and unloved until a zany new student arrives at his small-town Missouri high school, keeping a gender secret.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday.

Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien

In a future world baked dry by the sun and divided into those who live inside the wall and those who live outside it, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone is forced into a difficult choice when her parents are arrested and taken into the city.

Black Hole Sun by David McGinnis Gill

On the planet Mars, sixteen-year-old Durango and his crew of mercenaries are hired by the settlers of a mining community to protect their most valuable resource from a feral band of marauders.

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Inexplicable events start to occur when sixteen-year-old twins Tennyson and Brontë befriend a troubled and misunderstood outcast, aptly nicknamed Bruiser, and his little brother, Cody.

Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu

When her unstable mother dies unexpectedly, sixteen-year-old Lucy must take control and find a way to keep the long-held secret of her mother’s compulsive hoarding from being revealed to friends, neighbors, and especially the media.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Now on the cusp of manhood, Finnikin, who was a child when the royal family of Lumatere was brutally murdered and replaced by an imposter, reluctantly joins forces with an enigmatic young novice and fellow-exile, who claims that her dark dreams will lead them to a surviving royal child and a way to regain the throne of Lumatere.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Eighteen-year-old Piper becomes the manager for her classmates’ popular rock band, called Dumb, giving her the chance to prove her capabilities to her parents and others, if only she can get the band members to get along.

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff

Fifteen-year-old Andrew Zansky, the second fattest student at his high school, joins the varsity football team to get the attention of a new girl on whom he has a crush.

God is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein

Fifteen-year-old Grace, having turned her back on religion when her father left, now finds herself praying for help with her home and love life, and especially with whether she should help a beloved elderly friend die with dignity.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.

Jane by April Lindner

In this contemporary retelling of “Jane Eyre,” an orphaned nanny becomes entranced with her magnetic and brooding employer, a rock star with a torturous secret from his past.

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith

When fourteen-year-old Alex is framed for murder, he becomes an inmate in the Furnace Penitentiary, where brutal inmates and sadistic guards reign, boys who disappear in the middle of the night sometimes return weirdly altered, and escape might just be possible.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up with no memory in the middle of a maze and realizes he must work with the community in which he finds himself if he is to escape.

The Morgue and Me by John Ford

Eighteen-year-old Christopher, who plans to be a spy, learns of a murder cover-up through his summer job as a morgue assistant and teams up with Tina, a gorgeous newspaper reporter, to investigate, despite great danger.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Calla and Ren have been raised knowing it’s their destiny to mate with one another and rule over their shapeshifting wolf pack, but when a human boy arrives and vies for Calla’s heart, she’s faced with a decision that could change her whole world.

Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

When best friends Chris and Win go on a cross country bicycle trek the summer after graduating and only one returns, the FBI wants to know what happened.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.

Split by Swati Avasthi

A teenaged boy thrown out of his house by his abusive father goes to live with his older brother, who ran away from home years ago to escape the abuse.

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

Although they have never gotten along well, seventeen-year-old Levi follows his older brother Boaz, an ex-Marine, on a walking trip from Boston to Washington, D.C. in hopes of learning why Boaz is completely withdrawn.

Remember to read reviews for all books and get media committee approval for any Peach titles you wish to purchase for your school library as each community is different, and not all titles will suit all schools. Thanks for your promotion and support of the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers.

Suzanne Gordon
GA Peach Book Award for Teen Readers, Outgoing Chair
Lanier High School
Gwinnett County Public Schools

Being There: Attending the ALA Youth Media Awards

No, I didn’t don a full-length gown and gloves for what some call “The Oscars of Children’s Literature.” I hadn’t packed festive attire for the occasion since I was supposed to be home in Atlanta before the big announcements. But, thanks to the southern snow and ice, I was stranded in San Diego long enough to see the ALA Youth Media Awards a couple of weeks ago. It turned out to be a good thing that I wasn’t wearing a gown, since I ended up sitting on the floor of a crowded ballroom along with scores of other youth librarians and literature lovers.

You can check out the full list of winners here, and reactions to the awards by avid children’s literature aficionados are scattered across the web. For this post, I wanted to share the experience of attending the awards in person. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be very exciting. In past years, I have listened to the announcements online or watched the twitter stream, so I knew how the program would go. But from the moment I sat down on the ballroom floor and started listening to and tweeting the awards I realized that participating virtually, while wonderful, could not convey the electricity in the room.

It is amazing to be surrounded by people who are deeply committed to youth, libraries, and literacy. Clearly, many in the room had read lots of this year’s potential honorees. The whispers and murmurs (and sometimes squeals and screams) gave the event such an air of excitement. There were books that were clearly loved and celebrated by many, and honored books that many people had not heard of (yet). The winners were greeted with warm admiration.

Each award is selected through the work of a dedicated committee. Being at this event, where the committee is recognized after each award is announced, rekindled my interest in serving on one of these committees one day.  Have any of you ever served on an award committee? Do you hope to serve in the future? Which award would you choose? Two of my recent favorites are the Geisel Award (likely because my youngest child is learning to read so I read a LOT of beginning reader books) and the Schneider Family Book Awards. I reference these lists in my literacy courses often. I hope you’ll share your thoughts on the awards and the committees you’d love to work with in the comments.

As for the awards announcement, it was an energizing experience. I think we all left with good memories, not to mention longer reading lists. It will be wonderful to roll out the red carpet for the Youth Media Awards when ALA’s Midwinter Meeting is held in Atlanta in 2017. (Yes, it’s a ways off, but plenty of time to save up for that Oscar-worthy outfit!)

Beth Friese

Ph. D. Student

Department of Language and Literacy Education

University of Georgia

READ posters are cool?

Who knew? Put cameras in the hands of teenagers, tell them you’re going to display the pictures, and you’ve got some fun READ posters on your hands. You can even do this on the cheap with no software!

I use to stage student READ posters myself. They were ok. But someone mentioned turning the cameras over to the kids, and the posters are SO much better. They take the pictures, and I use to edit, add effects, and add text. I display them in the library and around the school as well. I love seeing students stop and talk about the posters, then ask if they can have one too!

Last year I took it one step further – I had a READ poster contest. Students had to take the picture and do the editing on themselves. The winner would get a big poster displayed in the media center and 2 free movie tickets. My expectations were low, but I was hopeful. I decided in my advertising to use the READ poster that sparked it all – a breakdancer in the library. It was like I issued a challenged to all the b-boys in the school! I got amazing entries and I’m looking forward to doing another contest next month.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Give kids advice on framing, what works well, space to write READ, but then turn them loose. Let them take the pictures. They like their posters so much more.

2. Include teachers and make it personal. I had one teacher dress up as Frankenstein, one in a wedding veil, one doing a karate move – anything that makes kids stop and look. The kids have also gotten the staff involved – from the school officer to the head custodian.

3. Cost: If you have a color printer, you can easily make mini-posters on the cheap. We’re lucky to have a poster printer in the technical drafting department, so I pay $6 per poster for the big ones. Maybe there’s a business that will cut you a deal.

4. Don’t take it too seriously. The fun ones are what make kids come in here asking when I’m holding the next READ poster contest!

Hope to see everyone at COMO!

Holly Frilot
Collins Hill High School

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Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers: New Peach Site Launch

and new online voting, too . . .

We’re excited to unveil a new Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers website at Please take a look and add this to any of your media center websites as a prominent link.  Share it with all your Peach-lovin’ friends around school, like that great often untapped resource: the Language Arts or English Department. And,  of course,  your teen book-geek super squad MUST know immediately.

This new site will allow us to make updates, changes, and additions almost immediately, rather than burdening our GLMA friends to order such revisions on our behalf.  BONUS:  this new site allows us to embed a Peach Book Award voting/rating survey, an innovation we were hoping to roll out for the 2010-2011 voting year. Yay! Voting goes live on Monday, October 4, 2010. The deadline for ALL votes: 3 PM on Friday, March 11th. Only Georgia teens qualify to vote.

With the voting now online, all you have to do is save a shortcut, favorite, or quick link to the survey page of our Peach website. Here are few ways the committee hopes you can use technology to get more votes from your teen students:

Scenario 1: You see a current Peach Nominee in a student’s hand as he or she is approaching the book return.  Once you confirm that the book isn’t just a prop and actually got read, just pull that student around to use a circulation desk computer and have a vote recorded for Book Boy or Girl in less than a minute. Encourage him or her to check out another one of the titles on the list to read and then to vote, whether at home or school.

Scenario 2: Your students in a certain grade level, class, or small group reads a Peach Nominee for their summer reading or for their Language Arts course. If that group comes in to check out new books, work on research, or use the computers, get them to  in the small or whole group to rate that title.

Scenario 3: You have one or more Language Arts teachers who is a Peach Nominee fan and is willing to promote reading them for outside or independent reading programs, maybe even with a little extra credit as the cherry on top. These teachers can use a classroom computer, their own teacher websites, and whole class use of computer labs to enable students who are reading Peaches to vote.

Okay, you may be asking yourself—if you talk to yourself as I do—what if I like my paper ballots and nifty ballot box and don’t want to force my students to vote online? We still have a way to make paper ballots work in the new system. It’s not all that different from how you used to handle each paper ballot. In prior years, you downloaded an Excel spreadsheet and then put in votes for each book’s rating, so you had a technology step for each paper ballot. Still just one technology step: Now, we are asking you to input any hard copy votes you collect into the online survey. Just open, click to indicate the student’s rating for a single title or multiples, and then click “submit.” We even give you  a choice of two kinds of paper ballots you can use on the Promotion section of the new website—the standard one book on each ballot you’re used to and a ballot/bookmark you can print out to help students find multiple nominees to read and rate, either on paper or using the website survey. Here’s a screenshot of how it should look:

Please encourage students to vote only once and only for books they have actually read—just as you would do with low-tech voting. Let’s not condone stuffing the ballot box. We want the winners to be the books our Georgia teens read and really liked the most. That’s not too much to ask, is it, even with technology at work in the process?

Last note: Come see our 11:00 AM Thursday, October 14th GA Peach Book Award for Teen Readers presentation at COMO—committee members will book talk this year’s nominees. We’ll also peek in on the new site and survey. Maybe you can go back and recommend them to students almost as well as if you had time to read them all yourself!

Suzanne Gordon

Media Specialist

Lanier High School

GA Peach Book Award Committee Chair

Summer: The Season for Peaches

I was gratified a few weeks ago to find that the Language Arts Lead/Dept. Chair at the new high school where I will be the media specialist next year solicited my opinions when organizing the summer reading lists for our students. Not only was it wonderful to find that he is amenable to collaboration, but I was also thrilled that his philosophy of summer reading was so Peach-friendly.

 At my prior school, a fabulous but hugely work-intensive summer reading program had just been taken off life-support machines this past year. I kept the patient alive for two years after both its Language Arts mama and its principal were long gone from the school—without strong widespread classroom and administrative support, a system that requires every teacher to read a book, make a test, host a book discussion, and deal with the grading paperwork is not likely to thrive. When the LA Dept. developed its new summer reading lists, they went the other way—if we want to make the summer reading decision a binary thing. They decided to choose works that they would like to see students read as a part of the upcoming year’s curriculum, when possible; that is, something American before Am. Lit; something British before Brit. Lit; something more global in scope before World Lit. That makes a kind of sense, no doubt, especially for a block schedule school that only gets 18 weeks of reading time with kids. However, I have always been, even when I did it as an AP Lit. teacher myself, confounded by the premise that we can get kids to read over the summer, on their own, books that they are unlikely to read and understand well without assistance. If they’re substituting Pink Monkey, Cliff’s Notes, and Wikipedia with such titles during the school year, why would summer more incline them to independent study?

 So, back to my new school and Peach Book Nominees on summer reading lists: Suddenly, it was like Christmas, and someone was asking for my recommendations. I didn’t even really want to divide my suggestions into specific grade levels, with the exception of ninth graders, but you can’t have everything—where would you put it, right? I went through the twenty titles from the 2009-2010 list (SO much great fantasy on that one) and the new 2010-2011 list (this one is WAY more realistic) and took off a few I didn’t quite cotton to or hadn’t read or that didn’t do so great on the voting. I gave him some annotations and indicated whether I saw the book as a freshman offering or not. He used those Peach books with just a few additions to craft the lists. He explained that he sees summer reading as being for the purpose of actually getting kids to read a book (or more) in the summer, not primarily as a means to further specific curricular objectives. Peach Books aren’t chosen to be “good” for students, except inasmuch as reading is good for students. And it is good, or we wouldn’t all be teacher-librarians, true?

 I think Peach Books are wonderful for summer reading because we do try to get a variety of books to appeal to a variety of students. Now that I’ve had the fun of blending lots of Peaches into a summer reading program, I’ve gotten curious about whether the Peach Book Nominees or winners have become a part of other school’s summer reading programs and how so. Suddenly craving a Peach smoothie—must be the blending thing. I always like to hear about how schools take grades for theses kinds of assignments. I also wonder where in the state public and school libraries do a good job of working in tandem to assure that reading happens and is supported during the break. Is there a way that the Peach Committee can help? My understanding is that school summer reading programs have NOT been shown to have a long-term effect on student achievement, so shouldn’t we evaluate what can be accomplished with summer reading and tailor our assignments to fit feasible goals? Let them read Peaches, I say.

Suzanne Gordon

Peach Committee Chair

Media Specialist

Lanier High School

Gwinnett County