Introducing the Rainbow Book List

ICYMI the nominations for the 2018 Rainbow Book List were announced on November 1. I’m jumping on here to write about my experience being on the 2018 committee thus far, and to share a little bit about the process.

Since the Youth Media Awards don’t release a longlist of recommended titles (unlike, say, the National Book Award), lists like the Rainbow Book List are especially helpful in considering what might be award-worthy. Separate committees decide the Stonewall Book Awards and the Rainbow Book List, so it’s also really interesting to compare the titles that are (or aren’t) honored by each committee.

Of course, the Rainbow Book List is not an award. It is an annual bibliography of recommended queer literature for youth ages birth to 18, and it started as a grassroots effort in 2007. The titles are selected by a committee of GLBTRT members. To be considered for the bibliography, a title must be published within the calendar year or between July 1 and December 31 of the previous calendar year. That means that for the 2018 Rainbow Book List, we’re considering anything that was published between July 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017. The 2018 Stonewall Book Award only considers titles published between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.

Anyway, here’s a brief overview of our committee’s timeline thus far:

  • We began reading eligible books in February 2017.
  • We accepted “suggestions” from the public until September 30, 2017.
  • “Nominations” from committee members were due October 31, 2017. Those can be read here.

In case you looked at the list of nominations and noticed any glaring omissions, let me share two caveats. First, a title that was nominated and discussed by last year’s committee is not eligible for this year’s list–even if it didn’t make it to the previous year’s final list. Second, even though books published in October-December are technically eligible, we can’t nominate them without having read the published copy. 

If you’re interested, you can read more about our committee procedures here. Books that will be included in the forthcoming final bibliography will be decided at ALA Midwinter in Denver in February 2018. Unlike those of award committees, our deliberations are public. So if you’re in the area feel free to listen in for some more insight into the committee process.

I’ve really enjoyed being on the committee because it’s given me an in-depth look at where queer literature is at right now in terms of the stories that are and aren’t being told–and who is telling these stories. There’s also less pressure because, as we’re creating a bibliography, we can choose more titles to honor than an award committee can. 

I look forward to sharing our final list with you. Until then, you’ll find me reading feverishly in anticipation of February’s deliberations.

NOTE: The information shared here is public knowledge that can be found on the Rainbow List Committee page. This post does not reflect the official opinion of the 2018 Rainbow Book List Committee.

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