As an elementary librarian and children’s literature lover, I live for the Newbery, Caldecott, and Theodor Seuss Geisel contenders every year. My students know that when I begin displaying the predicted books, the race is on to read as many as they can before we watch the ALA Youth Media Awards in January to see if their predictions were chosen! Sometimes they are delighted with the winning titles, and sometimes they walk away not quite understanding how or why a book won a medal at all. All I can tell them is that the Newbery, Caldecott, and Theodor Seuss Geisel committees have certain criteria they use when it comes to judging and ultimately choosing the winning books. What is that criteria exactly? I’m not really sure either.
Now, just about at the same time as I display the Newbery, Caldecott, and Geisel books, I also display another group of books that gets my students as equally, if not more, excited to read: The Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award nominees. Let me tell you more.
I am a member of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) and their committee of the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award (PYRCA).
The purpose of the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Awards Program is to promote reading of quality books by young people in the Commonwealth, to encourage teacher/librarian collaboration and involvement in YA and children’s literature, and to honor authors whose works have been recognized by the students of Pennsylvania. The program is sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA), a division of ALA.
The program consists of 15 books chosen each year by the PYRCA committee for 4 different categories-Kindergarten to grade 3, Grades 3-6, Grades 6-8, and YA. Posters of the final 15 books are available to be displayed in libraries and classrooms. Nominations are accepted throughout the year by children, librarians, teachers, publishers…anyone. One book from each category will win the award. The winning books are chosen by the PA children who vote.
The current list of nominees can be found at http://www.psla.org/assets/Documents/Awards/PA-Young-Readers-Choice/Masterlist-2014-2015.pdf. These books will be voted upon by children of PA beginning in late winter/early March. Winning authors are invited to the annual PSLA Conference to receive their award, often presented to them by children who voted! I take my students through this journey beginning quite soon by reading aloud several of the nominated picture books from the Grades K-3 list, excerpts from some of the chapter books from the Grades 3-6 list, and I ask classroom teachers to use the books as read alouds. My students get super charged up when the voting takes place and the winning books are announced!
I love being a member of this committee. We meet several times a year to discuss the books we are reading. Our next meeting will be at the Lititz Kid-Lit Festival Nov. 1. in beautiful Lititz, PA.
For more information about how you can get your children’s school or your local library to participate, visit http://www.psla.org/awards/pa-young-reader-s-choice. You can also contact me, Nadine Poper, at firstname.lastname@example.org.