I just read the “extras” in a new paperback version of The One and Only Ivan. This 2013 Newbery Medal winner by Katherine Applegate is one of those beautiful and approachable books that makes you want to be a better human. I was brought to tears by Applegate’s final thank you at the end of her Newbery acceptance speech. It was like a love letter to educators and it mirrors how I feel, and why I want to be part of this amazing ecosystem of teachers, librarians, booksellers, parents, authors, publishers, and all bibliophiles that strive to introduce young people to the books that are right for them.
To all of you who’ve come here tonight to celebrate children’s books: every time you find the right, the necessary, book for a child – a book about sadness overcome, unfairness battled, hearts mended – you perform the best kind of magic. It doesn’t matter if it’s about a gorilla or a nuclear physicist, a puppeteer, a motherless girl, or a clueless fish. If it’s the right book, you’ve allowed a child to make a leap out of her own life, with all its limitations and fears – and yes, sometimes sadness – into another, to imagine new possibilities for herself and for her world. Every time you book-talk a new title, every time you wander the stacks trying to find the elusive, well-thumbed series paperback, every time you give just the right book to just the right child, you’re saying, “You, my friend, have potential.”
That is a gift. That is a miracle. And that is what you do, each of you, every single day.
-Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal award speech