This past year I had the pleasure of serving on the award committee for a new picture book award, the CLEL Bell Award! This is the second year the the CLEL Bell committee has awarded honors to the best picture books that model and support the five early literacy practices: Read, Write, Talk, Sing, and Play. I think we did a bang up job picking this year’s winners. On the CLEL website you can also view activity sheets for each winning title, and take a look at the award’s short list for more fabulous titles (the competition was fierce).
Read: Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt
Write: The Crayon: A Tale of Friendship by Simon RIckerty
Talk: Froodle by Antoinette Portis
Sing: I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison
Play: Tea with Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg
It was a wonderful experience working on the award committee. I have been a huge advocate for the CLEL Bell award since its inception. I love that it focuses directly on the early literacy practices, rather than ambiguous qualities like “literary merit” or “eminence and distinction” The books selected for the 2014 CLEL Bell Award and the Silver Bells (books that would totally have one if the award existed when they were published) are storytime favorites. I also have utilized them when doing parent outreach and talking about Reading/Writing/Talking/Singing/Playing. It’s wonderful to have books to pull out that model the practices. There are even activity sheet to give to caregivers! These books also have a ton of the elusive kid appeal brought up often in discussion about other children’s book awards.
Being on this committee forced me to closely follow all of the new picture books that came out in 2014. It gave my storytime a great boost at a time when I felt myself lagging and getting a little bored. The other members of the committee were equally awesome, and it was great fun to champion my favorite books and get a new perspective on books that weren’t originally my favorite.
While CLEL (Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy) is a CO local organization, we value the input from early childhood professionals across the nation. All are welcome to nominate titles. Look for a follow up post when the nomination page opens for the 2016 award.