The Illinois School Library Media Association announced the following book awards in a March 22 webcast from Oak School in Hinsdale:
- Grades K-3: Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes (Eric Litwin, illus. by James Dean)
- Grades 3-5: Out of My Mind (Sharon M Draper)
- High School: Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher)
The association creates master lists in three grade bands each year: K-3, 3-5, and high school. The master lists have about 20 books, which are selected by a volunteer panel of Illinois librarians from more than 100 nominations.
“Schools sign their students up to read as many of the books on the reading list as possible, and then the students vote for their favorite,” said David Little, a librarian in Astoria Community Unit School District 1 and the association’s newsletter editor.
And we’re not just talking about a few schools here. For the 2012 award in the K-3 grade band, 140,858 children voted from more than 750 schools and libraries in Illinois.
After tallying the votes, the association names one book in each grade band as the Readers’ Choice award winner. The award for the K-3 band is known as the “Monarch Award,” that for the 3-5 band the “Bluestem Award,” and that for high school the “Lincoln Award.” In past years, authors of the winning books have accepted their awards in person.
The program favors the exploration of new books, since all books put on the master list must have been copyrighted within the last five years. By encouraging teachers throughout the state to include books from the master list in their lesson plans, the association hopes to develop a statewide awareness of outstanding literature for children and encourage critical reading for personal enjoyment.