The West Virginia Children’s Choice Book Award’s stated purpose is to “enrich the lives of children grades three through six by encouraging reading books of literary quality.” Established in 1981 by teachers Joyce Lang and Patty Benedum, this program was administered through the West Virginia Children’s Book Award Committee until 2007. It is now hosted by the West Virginia Center for the Book, located in Charleston.
Center staff has collected the tally sheets statewide and the results are conclusive. The 2012-2013 first place winner is No Ordinary Day by author Deborah Ellis, published by Groundwood Books in 2011. After learning that her family adopted her, Valli runs away from home to live on the streets of Kolkata, India, where she begs, steals, and resists help from a doctor who reveals that she has leprosy. Despite the description, the book is not a downer and was selected by children from around the state.
There was a rare second place tie with Soldier Bear by Bib Dumon and The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer. Soldier Bear, published in 2011 by Erdman Books for Young Readers and illustrated by Philip Hopman is based on the true story of an orphaned Syrian brown bear cub, adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II and serves for five years as their mischievous mascot in Iran and Italy. The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman tells the story of three twelve-year-olds who meet at a Youth Scrabble Tournament where, although each has a different reason for attending and for needing to win, they realize that something more important is at stake than the grand prize. It was published by Dutton Children’s Books in 2011.
Third place was won by Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, published by Scholastic in 2010. Having lost his mother and his hearing within a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and there meets Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben's story is told in words; Rose's in pictures. Selznick won the prestigious Caldecott Medal for The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Children from across the state read books from the 2012-2013 nominees list then voted for their favorite book. The award is based solely on the children’s votes and thereby allows young readers to have a voice about the types of books they enjoy and would read more often. The West Virginia Center for the Book invites children grades three through six to read books from the 2013–2014 WVCCBA Nominees list, then to vote for their favorite. In August, West Virginia teachers will begin receiving official ballots and tally sheets to submit on behalf of students, however, any child studying at these grade levels in the fall is eligible to vote.
The West Virginia Center for the Book was established in 2001 and is the state’s affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. A unit of the West Virginia Library Commission, the center receives support from the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Department of Education and the Arts. The West Virginia Center for the Book brings the national Center’s message of the importance of books and reading to audiences statewide. The center actively works within West Virginia to highlight the unique literary heritage that abounds from the earliest story tellers to the recent novelists. The center celebrates all West Virginia writers and place related books. West Virginia Center for the Book sponsors book festivals, author readings and other events that celebrate books and libraries.
For more information about these outstanding children’s books, visit your local library or Contact Suzy McGinley at the West Virginia Library Commission.