At the synagogue preschool where I serve as librarian, we have a special springtime tradition. Each year, we give all graduating Pre-K children the gift of a hardcover Jewish book. The idea is to jump-start or add to their own personal Jewish home libraries with high-quality titles. We also hope the gift will encourage them to continue their Jewish involvement beyond preschool.
This year we'll be giving the children their own copies of The Bedtime Sh'ma by Sarah Gershman, the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner. We don't always choose the Sydney Taylor winner as our gift book - some years the winner isn't the right reading level for Pre-K kids. For instance, last year's Sydney Taylor winner in the Younger Readers Category was Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky, too long and complex for Pre-K. Instead, we gave our kids Much, Much Better by Chaim Kosofsky, which had been a 2007 AJL Notable Book.
I ordered plenty of copies of The Bedtime Sh'ma, and when I opened the boxes I was so very, very pleased to see that the Sydney Taylor Book Award gold seals were already on the covers! Thanks, EKS Publishing! This may not sound like a big deal, but you would be surprised at how few publishers add book award seals to their books. It's a task that must be done by hand, and publishers sometimes have to pay a service to add the seals for them. I've even heard of publishers creating policies that restrict their use of seals to the best-known ALA awards (Caldecott, Newbery, etc.), just to simplify their lives and keep expenses down!
Of course, the publishing house is not the only place where books can receive the seals that are their due. The Association of Jewish Libraries sells Sydney Taylor Book Award seals so that librarians, booksellers, or other individuals can add them to the books at any time.
AJL also offers digital images of the gold and silver Sydney Taylor medals, so that publishers can simply add an image of the seal to the cover of a winner that is being reprinted. For example, here's the paperback edition of Real Time by Pnina Moed Kass, the 2005 winner in the Older Readers Category, with the seal imprinted right on it. This is an easy and cheap way to give winning books the credit they deserve!
If you need images of the gold or silver seals, here they are! Publishers, please use them on your books or your publicity materials. Anyone is welcome to use them on websites or blogs, booklists, posters, flyers... anything that helps spread the word about these terrific books! These are JPG's, but there are TIFF's available too at the AJL website.
Thanks again to EKS for taking the initiative to put medals onto their books! I can't wait to give them to the kids!