While voting for the readers’ choice awards for the Monarch, Bluestem, Rebecca Caudill, and Lincoln is still going on in schools and libraries throughout the state, the new nominees for the upcoming year have also been announced. The reading lists for the awards are selected each year by steering committees composed of librarians and educators and appointed by the Illinois School Library Media Association. Each list is designed with a specific school-age group in mind in order to encourage and develop reading at that level.
Through the summer and school year, schools and libraries in Illinois promote reading the selected books for school and leisure. In fact, many of our young patrons and students here in Tinley Park (from 3rd – 8th grade) read all 20 books on the Bluestem or Caudill lists in order to prepare for the Battle of the Books competition held by their schools in the spring. Each year, librarians from our library read the books on both lists, compose questions, and head out to local elementary and middle schools to challenge the students’ knowledge of the books.
The Monarch Award
Conceived in 2003, the ISLMA established The Monarch Award in order to fulfill the need for a readers’ choice award for kindergarten through 3rd grade. According to the ISLMA website, “The name Monarch was chosen because of its familiarity to K-3 children and to symbolize the growth, change and freedom that becoming a reader brings.” Combining non-fiction and fiction texts like the other ISLMA Reading Lists, the books that are chosen are intended to teach young readers to think critically and to become familiar with children’s books and their authors and illustrators overall.
Here is a link to the new 2015 Monarch Reading List.
Right now at the Tinley Park Public Library, patrons of all ages can come and vote for their favorite Monarch book for 2014. Those who are in Kindergarten through 3rd grade will have their vote submitted and counted toward the actual selection of this year’s winning book. Come upstairs to the Youth Services reference desk to ask for a ballot. Then head over to the window display to cast your vote by placing your ballot in the pocket corresponding to your favorite Monarch book. Voting ends on March 13th, so there is still time to get your vote in!
The Bluestem Award
The newest of the awards, the ISLMA established the Bluestem Award for readers between 3rd and 5th grade. According to the ISLMA website, the award is designed for students “[ . . .]who are ready for longer titles than found on the Monarch list, but not quite ready for the sophistication of some of the Rebecca Caudill titles.” Unlike the other lists, the Bluestem (named after Illinois’s state prairie grass, Big Bluestem) can contain both classic and current titles including ones that might have appeared in past Caudill or Monarch lists.
Here is a link to the new 2015 Bluestem Reading List.
The Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award
As the award that started it all, the Rebecca Caudill Award was established in 1988 and is sponsored by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English, the Illinois Reading Council, and the ISLMA. The award is named after Rebecca Caudill, a beloved children’s author and longtime resident of Urbana, Illinois. The reading list is designed for students in 4th – 8th grade and emphasizes the importance of a book for young readers that has universal appeal and that, in Caudill’s own words, “leaves the reader with bigger ideas than when he began reading - that stimulates his thinking, stretches his mind, deepens his feelings” (http://www.rcyrba.org/).
Here is a link to the new 2015 Caudill Reading List.
The Abraham Lincoln Award
Designed for high school readers (9th – 12th grade), the Lincoln Reading List is composed of books that have been selected by a panel of school and public librarians, teachers, and students. The list contains 22 titles and is not only based on popularity of the young adult materials, but on their literary quality. Unlike the other ISLMA lists, some of the titles are chosen by a separate Student Reader Panel. According to the ISLMA website, “This program is designed to encourage high school students to read for pleasure and to become lifelong readers.”