A pilot program for children’s lit awards

The Greek state awards for children’s literature have acquired a new selection process. The new system will operate on a pilot basis, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis told the press at the ministry last week. The new system has been designed to cope with the rapidly growing number of candidates for the awards and to ensure maximum transparency. As Eugene Trivizas, chair of the award committee, explained, the number of new children’s books makes it virtually impossible for any single juror to read all the candidates in the time allotted. Under the new arrangement, the list is to be winnowed earlier in the process, allowing the committee time to read a smaller number of titles. This year academics, teachers, librarians and publishers will be invited to nominate titles for the awards, accompanied by a written recommendation. The initial task of grading the entries for a long list goes to a newly established team of assessors – academics, postgraduate and doctoral students at the universities of Athens, Thessaly, the Aegean and Thessaloniki. In the case of major discrepancies in assessment, a backup team at Yale University will adjudicate. All the recommendations and comments submitted to the committee will be available online once the awards are decided. The new system is a serious attempt to organize the awards in line with changing demands. Time will tell how well it works. It certainly seems to contain enough checks and balances to guarantee to ensure complete transparency and so enhance the prestige of the awards. But the same checks and balances also make it seem rather complex and time-consuming. The decision to operate on a pilot basis allows leeway to tweak the details as necessary. Also welcome is the news that the state literary awards are to get a similar makeover.

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