Our Seventh Nerdversary and the 8th Annual Nerdy Book Club Award Nominations

Colby Sharp and I met in person at the 2011 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference in Chicago. We had been collaborating for several months online by then. Colby participated in my annual summer #bookaday reading challenge, then joined me to co-host my monthly Twitter chat, #titletalk in the fall.


In spite of our differences in gender, geographic location, and age, Colby and I had a lot of important things in common—a pragmatic world view, relaxed teaching styles, belief in building positive relationships with kids and their families, and boundless enthusiasm for reading and books.


After a long day at NCTE, Colby and I sat in a cocktail lounge chatting with Katherine Sokolowski about books (as one does at a literacy conference). Sharing the books we loved to read and our students loved to read that year, we discussed how often the books that were popular with our students never won major book awards or received critical acclaim. Why did so few awards consider kid-appeal and input from teachers, librarians, and families?


I don’t remember who asked, “Why don’t we start our own awards?” but Nerdy Book Club was hatched that night at NCTE. Returning home from the conference, Colby and I acquired a WordPress account and set up the blog. Tom Angleberger created our first logo. I wrote our inaugural post on December 2, 2011. We opened nominations for the first annual Nerdy Awards and asked friends to share their thoughts and experiences through essays on the blog.




Enthusiastic response to the blog expanded it beyond the Nerdy Awards and turned Nerdy Book Club into a year round space for celebrating books and sharing ideas for engaging young people with reading. Cindy Minnich joined us to help with the logistical and editorial challenges of running a post every day. She deserves all the credit for keeping the clocks running. Katherine joined us a few years ago to help with soliciting and scheduling posts from educators. I write for the blog, run the Nerdy awards balloting and posts, and promote the blog during my workshops and presentations. Colby works with publishers to invite and schedule authors and illustrators to write posts. Between the four of us and the legion of volunteer contributors who write posts, Nerdy Book Club remains. Thank you to everyone who reads this blog, contributes posts, shares the content with colleagues and families, and works every day to improve the lives of young people through books and reading. Thank you for keeping reading enjoyable, relevant, and engaging for kids. What you are doing matters.


We celebrate our nerdversary the same way we began, with nominations for the annual Nerdy Book Club Awards.


2018 Nerdy Book Club Award Ballot Opens


In the beginning, Nerdy was a community-driven book award blog, and we still hold the Nerdy Book Club Awards, the Nerdies, each winter. Each year’s list provides an overview of our readers’ most popular recommendations. The Nerdies look like a handpicked children’s bookshelf—a current mix of genres, formats, voices, perspectives, and styles; books with high literary merit and kid appeal; family, librarian, teacher, and kid-tested titles; books you want to own and share.


It is time for the eighth annual Nerdy Book Club Awards. In a sea of end-of-year book lists and awards, the Nerdies honor the new children’s and young adults’ titles that teachers, librarians, authors, booksellers, caretakers, and most of all, young people, have loved reading this year.


You’ve been reading and sharing books all year. What have your reading communities enjoyed?


Here is how the Nerdies work:


The 2018 Nerdies Nomination Ballot is open until December 16th at midnight Eastern Time. Nominate up to 5 books in each of the following categories:


Picture Books: Fiction

Picture Books: Nonfiction

Early Readers/ Chapter Books

Graphic Novels

Poetry and Novels in Verse

MG/YA Nonfiction

Middle Grade Fiction

Young Adult Fiction


You do not need to nominate books in every category or nominate a full slate of 5 nominees. All nominees must have been published in 2018 and written for children or young adults. Please do not nominate books published in years other than 2018. We have restricted the surveys to one response per computer.


After tallying the ballots, we will announce the 2018 Nerdies list in daily category posts beginning December 26th.


Join us in honoring the books that matter to you and the children you encourage to read. No matter which titles wind up on our final list, the ongoing conversations about these books will benefit every member of our community. Thank you for participating and for being nerdy with us all these years.


Donalyn Miller has taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grade English and Social Studies in Northeast Texas. She is the author or co-author of several books about encouraging students to read, including The Book Whisperer (Jossey-Bass, 2009), Reading in the Wild (Jossey-Bass, 2013), and Game Changer!: Book Access for All Kids (Scholastic, 2018). Donalyn co-hosts the monthly Twitter chat, #titletalk (with Nerdy Book Club co-founder, Colby Sharp). Donalyn launched the annual Twitter summer and holiday reading initiative, #bookaday. You can find her on Twitter at @donalynbooks or under a pile of books somewhere, happily reading.