Announcing the Bell Awards!

(aka Why Mel Hasn’t Posted Much of Anything for Two Months Now)

Thanks to my brilliant friend and colleague Carol Edwards, I have had the amazing opportunity this year to help launch a new picture book initiative, the CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards.


CLEL is Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy and is an advocacy group I’ve been a part of for several years. One day after a meeting, Carol and I were standing in the parking lot–still talking about literacy stuff–and she said, “You know what we should do? CLEL should start an early literacy picture book award.” And here we are a year and a half later, and that’s exactly what we did!

If you missed one of our 645 listserv announcements last month, you can find out more about the project at the CLEL website.

What we hope to do is to recognize the picture books that provide strong support of young children’s early literacy development, by celebrating books that thematically feature reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing, and that lend themselves to modeling and supporting those great activities that get grown-ups and kids engaged with each other. We know that engagement, interaction, and conversation is so powerful in boosting young children’s reading readiness! Our first awards will be announced on February 5, 2014.

But we don’t just want to announce our winning titles once a year–we want to help librarians, parents, childcare providers, preschool teachers, anyone really, discover robust new titles all year long, and provide a place for us to talk about what makes them so great for sharing with children and families.

So I have an invitation for you! Once a week on the CLEL blog we will be featuring one of the titles that has been nominated for the award. We’d love for you to visit the blog, and let us know what you like or don’t like about the book in the comments! Have you read it in storytime? How did it go? Did you read it to your nieces and nephews? Share it with your preschool classroom? Did it inspire any fun conversations with the children you shared it with? Was it a complete dud? Can you think of some fun activity ideas connected to the book that boost early literacy skills? All this information is valuable–not only to the selection committee who will be considering the title for the award, but to other readers who are choosing and using books with young children. Your voice is important!

And what if you’ve found a great book on your new book shelf that isn’t on our nominations list yet? Guess what? You can nominate titles too! We just ask that you tell us a little bit about the connections you see between your title and early literacy skills and practices.

We are so excited about this project and hope you will be too. Your participation is crucial to our vision and goals! The more folks we have talking and thinking about these books, the more we will be able to spread the early literacy word, both in and outside of libraries.

Here’s where you can help!

Nominate a title

This week’s blog post–about Emily Gravett’s Again!

See what’s been nominated so far–we’re just getting started!

Any questions? Just ask!

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