For those who don't know, the Cybils are the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, given annually in a whole host of categories to kids' books that have both high literary merit and great kid appeal. There are two judging phases. Beginning in October, round one judges read every nominated book in their category, and then present a short list in January. Between New Year's Day and Valentine's Day, round two judges read every book on their category's short list and choose the winner. (To serve as judge, you must be a blogger who meets the eligibility requirements.)
With the exception of 2013 (when I was a brand-new mom), I have participated in Cybils every year since I started blogging, and I look forward to it at the end of every summer. Today, in the hopes of inspiring potential judges to submit their applications ASAP, I want to share with you just five of the many reasons I love judging the Cybils.
- Connecting with the blogging community. Blogging, like any type of writing, can be very isolating if you are not connected to a network. Cybils has helped me discover not just other book bloggers, but other book bloggers who are interested in the same very specific types of books that I prefer to read and review. I still follow many of the bloggers with whom I have connected through Cybils, and each year, I find new blogs to add to my RSS subscriptions. Cybils is a great opportunity for new and experienced bloggers to branch out, make friends, and enrich the blogging experience.
- Deep discussions. Chances are, if you blog about books, you like to talk about books. But how often do you have the opportunity in your everyday life to engage in deep conversation about what makes a great book work? During Cybils season, judges have these conversations on an ongoing basis, from their preliminary discussions about the judging criteria, to those final decision-making moments at the end of each round. Not only have these discussions helped me to look at books in new ways, they have also made me much more skilled at expressing and defending my own point of view.
- Having a reason to look forward to Fall and Winter. I love summer, and it is a disappointment every year to see the weather turn cold, the daylight grow short, and the winter coats come out of the closet. Knowing that Cybils will run from October to February makes the transition into this time of year seem much more bearable.
- The thrill of the hunt. There is nothing I love more than tracking down a long list of titles to read. I use Cybils as an excuse to visit as many different local libraries and bookstores as I can, in the hopes of finding and reading all those obscure and hard-to-find nominees. Review copies are nice, too, but there is something so satisfying (at least for my librarian's soul) about finding each book on my own.
- Professional development. As a stay-at-home mom, I really enjoy professional projects that can help me stay connected to the fields of librarianship and children's literature without requiring me to travel for conferences or take on a part-time job. Cybils is the ideal way to participate because I can do the reading during nap time, write reviews on the weekends, and save the discussions for the evenings when my daughter is in bed. No matter how many books I read in a given year, there are always new ones I learn about come Cybils time, and sometimes these previously unknown titles end up becoming new favorites!
Have I convinced you to apply? Click here for the application. Good luck and happy Cybils!