Our 2nd Nerdversary and The 2013 Nerdy Award Finalists

The Nerdy Book Club began as a confessional hashtag (#nerdybookclub) among book lovers, but it evolved into much more when Colby Sharp and I started this blog two years ago today. Dissatisfied with annual best book lists that didn’t include the books our students loved to read, we decided to start our own book awards, the Nerdies, and invited fellow teachers, librarians, and readers to nominate and vote for their favorite books.

We were doing it for the fun of it.

Waiting for readers to submit titles for the Nerdies, Colby and I asked friends to contribute essays about their reading lives for the blog. While the Nerdies gave the blog a purpose in those early days, it was these beautiful Reading Lives posts that gave the Nerdy Book Club its heart. As librarian, Kathy Burnette said, “I know the power of books. They can change your life.” In some quarters, an obsession with books labels you a nerd. At Nerdy Book Club, a passion for reading distinguishes you as a member of the tribe.

By the time we announced the 2011 Nerdy Award winners, a thousand people a day were reading the blog. Colby and I were at a crossroads—close the blog until next year’s Nerdies or keep it running and get some help. Thankfully, Cindy Minnich, agreed to join us. Cindy, I hope you still feel good about this decision most days. We also asked our readers what content they would like to see on the blog and invited anyone to submit posts. We will remain a community blog–even when it means we are scrambling for posts at times.

The Nerdy Book Club is yours and mine and ours.

A legion of teachers, librarians, authors and illustrators, booksellers, parents, and readers strive to connect readers with books and create positive reading experiences for children. Unfortunately, we all don’t have equal access to forums that will publish our ideas and share them with each other. Now we do. Whether it’s a peek into your library or a heartfelt review of Where the Red Fern Grows, Nerdy offers all of us a place to celebrate our shared enthusiasm for young readers and their books.

We are doing it for the love of it.

I am grateful to everyone who reads the blog, contributes posts, and proudly calls themselves members of Nerdy. You are my over-the-top book-loving family and I am glad we found each other. I look forward to the happy communion we will share in years to come.

The 2013 Nerdy Award Finalists

I spent the weekend combing through your 2013 Nerdy Book Club Award nominations–discovering many new titles and revisiting many books that my students, colleagues, and I enjoyed reading this year. Thank you to the hundreds of readers who took the time to nominate books. Narrowing a wonderful year of reading into a short list of titles challenges avid readers, and I know you had to make tough choices!

This year’s finalists’ list contains 93 books in eight categories. We planned to shortlist the top ten nominees in each category, but tie votes and landslide nominations for many books resulted in more or less titles than ten in some categories. You don’t mind more books, do you?

In two weeks, we will open the final ballot and invite readers to select our final 2013 Nerdy Book Club Award winners. These two weeks will give readers time to review the finalists and consider titles before voting begins. I plan to spend the next fourteen days catching up on the unread Nerdy nominees I have in my to-read pile. I want to be as informed as possible before I cast my final vote! I hope you enjoy poring over the list and finding new books to read and share. you may download a copy of the list from my slideshare page for easier reference.

Congratulations to our Nerdy Book Club Award authors and illustrators! Your work has been chosen by teachers, librarians, children, booksellers, and readers everywhere as one of the best books of 2013. Thank you for providing marvelous reading experience for the children in our lives (and us). Everyone here at the Nerdy Book Club looks forward to sharing your books with more readers.

Picture Book Fiction

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matthew Myers

Bluebird by Bob Staake

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom LichtenheldMr-Tiger

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Journey by Aaron Becker

Little Red Writing by Joan Holub, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The Story of Fish & Snail by Deborah Freedman

Picture Book Nonfiction

 A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean

Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy

Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals’ Lives by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal tree_lady

Look Up: Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debby Atwell

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth

Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige Vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio by Rob Skead, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell  by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Early Reader/ Chapter Books

A Big Guy Took My Ball! by Mo Willems

Bink and Gollie: Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile Quirks

Bowling Alley Bandit by Laurie Keller

I’m a Frog! by Mo Willems

Ling & Ting Share a Birthday by Grace Lin

Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes

The Quirks: Welcome to Normal by Erin Soderberg

The Show Must Go On! by Kate Klise & M. Sarah Klise

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

Middle Grade and Young Adult Nonfiction

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest–and Most Surprising–Animals on Earth by Steve Jenkins

Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone

Animal BookEruption!: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Tom Uhlman

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Locomotive by Brian Floca

Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans by Seymour Simon

Stronger Than Steel: Spider Silk DNA and the Quest for Better Bulletproof Vests, Sutures, and Parachute Rope by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Andy Comins

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler’s List by Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran, & Elisabeth B. Leyson

The Mystery of Darwin’s Frog by Marty Crump Ph.D,  illustrated by Steve Jenkins and Edel Rodriguez

 The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb

Graphic Novels

 Babymouse #17: Extreme Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm

 Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton by Matt Phelan

extreme babymouse

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale

Lunch Lady #9: Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

Poseidon: Earth Shaker by George O’Connor

Squish #5: Game On! by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm

The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown

The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth

Poetry and Novels in Verse

Forest Has a Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley


Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse

God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Marla Frazee

Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost

Pug: And Other Animal Poems by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Stardines Swim High Across the Sky: and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger

 The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses by Lisa Wheeler

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes

Middle Grade Fiction

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

real boy

Every Day After by Laura Golden

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Hold Fast by Blue Balliet

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams Garcia

Rump: The True Story of Rumplestilskin by Liesl Shurtliff

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

The Center of Everything by Linda Urban

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

The Runaway King by Jennifer Nielsen

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner

Young Adult Fiction

Allegiant by Veronica Roth


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

Reality Boy by A.S. King

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Winger by Andrew Smith

Donalyn Miller is a fifth grade teacher at Peterson Elementary in Fort Worth, TX. She is the author of The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild. Donalyn co-hosts the monthly Twitter chat, #titletalk (with Nerdy co-founder, Colby Sharp), and facilitates the Twitter reading initiative, #bookaday. You can find her on Twitter at @donalynbooks or under a pile of books somewhere, happily reading.