The idea for this award came from a conversation I had with Librarian Arika at the WWUCLC Conference in Bellingham. We thought that there should be an award for this growing class of books, and that our students deserved to have some great new choices to read in this category. I love the idea of promoting finishing an entire book, and the feeling of success that brings. When younger children pick up books that are either too hard or above their developmental understanding, they can get frustrated and give up on reading. We want to avoid that frustration and promote a love of reading at all levels.
We were also interested in providing a solid list to librarians of books in this category. Many librarians have such limited budgets that we use these lists to drive our purchases, hoping that the list will be good since so many other librarians and teachers have spent the time reading and evaluating the content of the books. For this list, we are trying to make sure that the books are also well received by the students, not just books that we think that students will like.
Our selection criteria:
- copyright year 2013-2014
- reading level suitable for grades 1,2,3
- multiple kid-friendly specs (including, but not limited to: white space, font size, line spacing, illustrations)
- read and positively reviewed by a student (“books kids like, not books adults think kids like”)
- representation of genres/gender/diversity/series
The 2015-2016 OTTER Award nominees (Bellevue Schools):
The 2015-2016 OTTER Award nominees (Mount Vernon Schools):
Voting will take place by April 15. Award winners announced by May 1. Nominees for 2016-2017 year TBA.
There are two different lists because we were piloting the idea in the two different districts this year. If you have nominations for the 2017 OTTER Award list, we would appreciate your input. WLMA officially approved the award earlier this month, and I am excited for the opportunity to be involved.