Capitol Choices is a book evaluation committee that meets once a month in Arlington, Virginia to discuss new books in children’s literature. I joined this group even though I live in Charlottesville because the discussion is so rich that it is worth the 2-1/2 hour drive each way. I am somewhat isolated in Charlottesville in terms of discussion because not everyone has the same access I do to review copies. The likelihood of someone reading what I am reading here in town is fairly low. But at Capitol Choices it is almost certain that I am reading what others are reading.
Capitol Choices grew out of a group that met at the Library of Congress to discuss new children’s books and choose the best for an annual list for anyone interested in books for children. When that group disbanded, many of the members appreciated the discussions so much that they created Capitol Choices. The group is made up of people like myself, Children’s Literature Specialists, along with public librarians, public school librarians, bookstore owners and buyers, representatives from audiobook companies, and many others. If you like children’s books, Capitol Choices is the place for you.
You can find our website at www.capitolchoices.org and there you will find so many resources on children’s books that it’s a veritable feast! First of all are the lists. The website has all of our back lists so you can get ideas for child readers gong back some time. They are searchable and incredibly useful. Each list features books in the following five categories: Up to Seven, Seven to Ten, Ten to Fourteen, Fourteen and Up, and Audiobooks. The titles that make the annual list are carefully selected by the whole group and represent the best in children’s publishing.
The lists are wonderful but you can follow along from your own home to see what books we are discussing and the different thoughts our fellow readers have on them. Our meeting notes are posted and you will see that opinions on books can vary widely. You can be a remote member by going to our home page and clicking on “Join Us.” We would love for you to drop by in person or be part of us via the internet.
Our meetings are on Fridays and are generally held at the Arlington Main Library on N. Quincy St. A listing of meetings and times can be found on the “Join Us” page. Even if you never attend a meeting in person, you can still nominate books for consideration if you commit to joining a reading group. The same five categories mentioned above are the five reading groups. Once you sign up for one you can nominate books and vote on the two ballots we have each year. Again, check the “Join Us” page for information on joining.
By the way, many librarians in our group use the Capitol Choices meetings as professional development. I expect school librarians could do the same as well as some teachers. You come away with a good sense of what makes a children’s book strong and your selection skills, whether personal or job-related, become fine tuned.
At the very least, check out the web page and maybe I will see you there sometime. Happy reading!