Three book awards for Arkansas Students

Arkansas students can vote for their favorite books in three annual reading awards – the Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award, the Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award and the Arkansas Teen Book Award.

Arkansas Diamond Book Award

                The Arkansas Diamond Book Award is for students in grades K-3. The award is sponsored by two of the divisions of the Department of Education – Elementary and Secondary Education and the Arkansas State Library – and the Arkansas Literacy Association.

                Titles are selected by a reading committee of librarians, media specialists and literacy advocates.  The reading list is distributed statewide. Students must have read at least three of the titles from the annual reading list and may vote for one title in May.

                Due to the age group involved, teachers and media specialists may devise a plan to help children to vote on books that are read to children. Books can be read to the children over an extended period of time, but a review the books read may be necessary before voting, as young children may forget books read at the beginning of the year.

                The 2019-2020 winner is Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds with illustrations by Peter Brown. The second place winner is The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Adam Rex and the third place winner is Please Please the Bees by Gerald Kelley (author/illustrator).

Charlie May Simon Book Award

                The Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award for children’s literature has been presented annually since 1971 to an author whose book has been selected through a vote taken by Arkansas school children in grades 4-6. The purpose of the award is to promote better reading for children and to recognize the outstanding work of Arkansas author Charlie May Simon.

                The Charlie May Simon Award winner is selected by an annual vote. Children must have read or been read at least three of the titles from the annual reading list and may vote for one title. Student voting takes place in May each year.

                The 2019-2020 winner is Restart by Gordon Korman. The second place winner is Hideout by Watt Key and the third place winner is The Losers Club by Andrew Clements.

Arkansas Teen Book Award

                The Arkansas Teen Book Award began in 2009 as a cooperative effort between public and school librarians across the state. Arkansas has long recognized quality children’s literature through the Charlie May Simon and Arkansas Diamond awards, yet the acknowledgment of young adult literature had been greatly neglected.

                  Nominations are accepted from the public, and all eligible titles are included for consideration by the steering committee.  These books are read and voted on by teachers and librarians across Arkansas to narrow the selections to a manageable reading list. This reading list is distributed statewide and then teens cast their votes for their favorite titles to determine the ultimate winners of the awards.

                The steering committee for the teen award now consists of public librarians and school library media specialists from varying backgrounds and service areas.  The primary sponsoring organization is the Arkansas State Library.

                The 2019-2020 Level 1 winner, chosen by students in grades 7-9, is I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black was voted the runner-up.  The Level 2 winner, chosen by students in grades 10-12, is Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas was voted the runner-up.

                For more information about these awards, contact Ruth Hyatt, Library Coordinator of Youth Services, at ruth.hyatt@arkansas.gov, (501) 682-2860.

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