I am a school librarian—one of the best jobs on this planet. I am also one of twenty-four librarians on the committee for the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award.
The Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award (PAYRCA) is an opportunity for the students of Pennsylvania to vote in their very own book award. There are four lists created each year by the committee members: grades K-3, 3-6, 6-8, and YA. Each list has fifteen books on which students can vote for their favorite, one per list. The book with the most votes from each list is the winner. The votes are cast by the students of Pennsylvania each spring.
The lists are carefully balanced to include all genres—picture books, poetry, chapter books, middle grade, biographies, and nonfiction—as well as a variety of topics and characters that will appeal to both boys and girls and that celebrate various cultures. The winning books are revealed at the annual Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) conference held each spring. Winning authors from the previous year often attend the awards breakfast at the conference to receive their recognition.
School libraries across the Commonwealth participate by purchasing the books for their collections and sharing the book talks, book trailers, and lesson ideas with their students. The book talks and lesson ideas are created by the committee members so that teachers and librarians have resources at their fingertips.
One lesson idea, for example, that I incorporate with my elementary students involves students taking on the roles of animals in the ocean and demonstrating the breakdown in the food chain as discussed in If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams.
My students enjoy participating each year because it is a book award in which their voice matters. I do a big Caldecott and Newbery award unit also, which we have so much fun doing. However, the kids know that those awards are chosen by adults, whereas the PA Young Reader’s Choice Award is all about what they like the most.
Do you want to know which books our PA students chose for 2019?
Drum roll . . .
From the kindergarten-grade 3 list: Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton
From the grades 3-6 list: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
From the grades 6-8 list: Refugee by Alan Gratz
From the YA list: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
A big Congratulations to all these winning authors and for all the nominated titles!
For more information and to see a complete list of all 2019-2020 books, visit the PAYRCA website here.
Nadine Poper is an elementary librarian for an urban PA school district. She loves how fortunate she is to be surrounded all day by books and children to share them with. She is a mom to three young men and two dachshunds. Nadine has two picture books being published later this year by Blue Whale Press. You can visit her website Nadinepoper.weebly.com to learn more and follow her on Facebook (@Nadinebooks) and Twitter (@NadinePoper).