by Kathy Halsey
On Fridays you’ll find us GROGers on the hunt for gems we feel writers could use. These tidbits may be a bit esoteric, but that’s part of the fun! What WILL those groggy GROGers find next???
So here’s today’s question…what do the following items all have in common?
- Blue Bonnet
- Blue Spruce
- Blue Hen
No, it’s not game of “let’s pick out the only item that does not belong!” If you guessed that these are the readers’ choice awards of Ohio, Texas, Michigan, Colorado, and Delaware, you win the blue ribbon! Did you know that every state has a children’s choice award? Some states champion teen awards and some also recognize non-fiction!
You ask, “But why is this important to me as a writer?” Glad you asked, curious reader! Two “old saws” will answer your burning question. Old saw #1: All politics is local. Old saw #2: Location, location, location! (realtors) Do you get the connection? Think LOCAL! Peruse your state’s reading awards site and get to know your local audience. Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Times best-selling author, writing teacher, and speaker, has a complete list of all the state awards, plus other goodies for kidlit writers here.
As a former board member of The Buckeye Children’s Book Award, Ohio’s readers’ choice award, I learned so much about Ohio’s young readers during my tenure, but you don’t have to be on the board to support/benefit from your state award. The benefits…
· I learned the themes/subjects/genres that resonate with Ohio readers.
· I met other local/national authors at the annual awards banquet.
· I networked with public librarians, school librarians, professors and teachers across the state.
· I found lists of books Ohio kids adore going back to the early 80’s – good mentor texts for my local audience!
As your tour guide for the Buckeye Book site, we find features that are similar to many other states.
· The award is usually a collaboration of library/educator/reading associations. (Sometimes we writers call these folks “gatekeepers.” These are good folks to know!) For example, in Ohio the sponsors of the Buckeye are the State Library of Ohio, Ohio Council International Reading Association The Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, The Ohio Educational Library Media Association, The Ohio Library Council and The Kent State University School of Library and Information Science.
· The award groups encourage reading for pleasure and newer titles, usually within the last 2-3 years. Nominated titles are kid favorites and teacher/librarian approved. (Your specific state list might be a great set of mentor texts for you!)
· The BCBA even mentions authors: “The Buckeye Children’s and Teen Book Award program is designed to encourage students in Ohio to read literature critically, to promote teacher and librarian involvement in young adult literature programs, and to commend authors of such literature. The Teen category was added to the existing Buckeye Children’s Book Award in 2003. (Buckeye winners are feted at a state conference from one of the sponsoring associations and usually the award group picks up the travel tab!)
Take some time to investigate YOUR state’s award soon! They have this GROGer’s seal of approval and a blue ribbon for promoting authors!