It’s Time for the Nerdies! Nominate Your 2022 Favorites! by Donalyn Miller

If you’ve been reading the Nerdy blog for a long time, or you have read some of our Nerdversary posts, you may recall that this blog began in a bar at the 2011 NCTE Conference in Chicago. Colby Sharp and I met in person at that conference after co-hosting #titletalk for months on Twitter. At the time, we didn’t imagine we would write two books together or become close friends. 

Hanging out with Katherine Sokolowski, we chatted about our students and the books they loved to read.  Colby taught fourth, Katherine taught fifth, and I taught sixth at the time. We were complaining about awards for children’s books. While we understood and appreciated the importance of the many book awards that value children’s and young adult literature as an art form, it seemed that many of the books that won these awards had minimal appeal to our students. The books they really liked were not celebrated or promoted as much.

With no real understanding of what we were about to do, Colby and I decided that we could host and run a blog that tried to do just that—lift up the books that engaged our students with reading and create a space for educators who were striving to connect their students with a wide variety of books. 

With stars in our eyes and a free WordPress account, we launched the first Nerdy Book Club Awards, fondly called “the Nerdies” on December 1, 2011. The Nerdy Book Club community sprang from Twitter and connections from #titletalk, #bookaday, and professional organizations like NCTE. Colby and I thought we were creating a little space for our friends to hang out and write about books and teaching. My first book, The Book Whisperer, was popular with some teachers and we thought that a few of them might enjoy the blog, too. 

That first year, we opened nominations for the Nerdy Book Club Awards on December 1st and announced all of the “winners” on December 18th. It was silly and lighthearted. Our students thought it was cool that they could tell adults about the books they REALLY liked.

We did not realize how many teachers, librarians, and families were looking for a place like Nerdy. By the time the first round of Nerdy awards appeared, there were thousands of subscribers to this blog. Colby and I invited Cindy Minnich, and eventually Katherine, to manage the day-to-day responsibilities of scheduling posters and running the blog.

More than a decade later, Nerdy is still here and this blog and community have evolved in some ways. We no longer try to run a post every day of the year, for one thing! With Nerd Camps and other endeavors, the Nerdy community has spread around the world. Our original goals remain—to create and support reading communities that value all readers and all types of reading. 

It is time for the Nerdies again! This will be the twelfth year. It has been an amazing year for children’s and young adult literature and I hope that you have been able to read a few new books this year and pass them along to kids. Talking with many of you, one of the benefits of the landslide of end-of-year book awards and “Best of…” lists is that these recommendations help you prioritize your reading and help you locate and evaluate books for your students and children.

The Nerdies are nominated by your reading communities and represent your most enthusiastic book recommendations from this year’s new publications. I think the Nerdies represent the books that teachers, librarians, and families want to offer young readers—a current mix of genres, formats, voices, and styles; books with literary merit and kid appeal; the books that engage kids with reading and the world around them. After the first few years, we realized that limiting the Nerdies to five books in each category reduced the diversity of titles we shared with readers, we now include the top twenty nominated books in each category. More books for everyone!

Here is how the Nerdies work:

The 2022 Nerdy Nomination Ballot is open until Monday, December 19th at midnight Eastern Time. You have a few days to gather your nominations and submit them. 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 2022 and written for children or young adults. Please do not nominate books published in years other than 2022. Every year, we receive nominations for books teachers shared with kids this year, but were published decades ago. 

In order to cut down on spam entries, we have restricted the survey to one ballot per device.

When nominating books, consider Nerdy Book Club’s Book Lists and Recommendation Policy, which requires inclusiveness and equitable representation in all recommendation lists featured on this blog. Consider books featuring a wide range of voices, perspectives, and lived experiences when making your nominations.

After tallying the ballots, we will announce the 2022 Nerdies list in daily category posts beginning December 26th and ending with our two-day Young Adult Fiction posts on January 2nd and 3rd. 

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 for another year. 

Donalyn Miller is a Texas educator and the author or co-author of numerous books, articles, blog posts, and speeches about engaging young people with reading and ensuring meaningful book access. Her most recent books are The Joy of Reading (2022) co-written with Teri Lesesne and The Commonsense Guide to Your Classroom Library (2022) co-written with Colby Sharp. Donalyn lives near the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio with her spouse and his goblin dog. You can find her online on Twitter and Instagram.