You can find a version of this post in Challenging Traditional Classroom Spaces with Young Adult Literature: Students in Community as Course Co-Designers by Ricki Ginsberg:
My library system hosts a yearly Mock Printz book discussion as a professional development opportunity to help staff build their readers’ advisory frameworks and introduce them to recently published titles. At the program, library staff discuss a pre-selected shortlist and vote for a winner and two honor titles. Although my experience is with a professional development program, you can easily host a Mock Printz for your library’s patrons instead.
In my system, the Mock Printz is organized by the YA Book Showcase committee which consists of approximately twelve YA librarians. Responsibilities include reading and evaluating newly released books for possible presentation and Mock Printz contention, as well as presenting at and participating in committee-run programs including new book presentations and book discussions. A Teen Advisory Board, English class, or library book club could also handle Mock Printz prep and shortlist selection.
Printz results are announced at ALA’s LibLearnX conference which is usually held in January. Your Mock Printz should be at least one to two weeks before the conference to have your Mock Printz results before the actual Printz. Plan to announce your shortlist in November to give participants and presenters plenty of time to read and prepare.
Choose Your Longlist:
- Ask for Suggestions: While I was the committee chair, I asked YA Book Showcase members around September to share any books they’ve read that seem Printz-worthy based on the official Printz criteria which I compiled in a spreadsheet.
- Look for Stars: Since the official Printz criteria emphasizes demonstrated literary merit, keep an eye on starred reviews from professional journals. You can find all of these online through online retailers like Barnes and Noble and also through the Novelist Plus database if your library has access to it. Jen J’s Booksheets is an invaluable resource outlining where titles have been reviewed and stars received (as of this posting Jen is currently a year behind on compiling booksheets, so it won’t help while looking up new titles).
- Best of Lists: Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, and numerous other publications release yearly best book lists. The finalists for the National Book Award, Kirkus Prize, and YALSA’s Morris Award and Nonfiction Award are also helpful if they are announced early enough.
Finalize Your Shortlist:
Depending on the length of your discussion, and the length of the books, your shortlist should be between four and six books. If you plan to select your shortlist with a smaller group discussion, budget at least two hours for the process.
Your shortlist should feature a mix of genres and formats including contemporary fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, non-fiction, graphic novel, historical fiction, etc. You may also want to look for debuts and books from smaller publishers. The actual Printz is not always this well-rounded but variety means something will appeal to everyone and introduce participants to examples of genres they may not normally read.
Your final shortlist should be an inclusive, balanced list of authors and protagonists in terms of gender identity, life experience, and cultural background as varied as your vibrant library community. Try to make sure some of your titles are available as ebooks and/or audiobooks so that the shortlist is as accessible as possible to all participants.
Organize Your Mock Printz:
Start your Mock Printz by explaining the official Printz criteria and the evening’s agenda. At my system’s Mock Printz, committee members then share five-minute presentations on how each book fulfills that criteria and relevant details such as starred reviews or award nominations. After each five-minute presentation allot ten minutes of discussion with an additional ten minutes for final thoughts before voting.
Voting is modeled on the actual Printz’s weighted voting with first, second, and third place choices on the ballot. First place gets 3 points, second place gets 2 points, third place gets 1 point. If a title receives 5 votes for first place that would be multiplied by 3 for a total of 15 points and so on. The book with the highest total score is the winner with the next lowest being an honor title. The actual Printz would also need a specific majority of votes to declare a winner but time limitations may prevent runoff votes at your Mock Printz.
And the Winner Is …
After votes are tallied, announce your Mock Printz winner and honor titles at your program. You can share the results with the rest of your library community via a display or social media too. Then wait to see how your choices compare to the actual Printz results!