WA’s newest book award: The OTTER Award

There has never been a better time to be an emerging reader in Washington.  Why?

Because the OTTER AwardOur Time To Enjoy Reading – is here, officially recognized as a WLMA state book award by the Washington Library Association!

This award is designed for children ages 6-9 who are transitioning from picture books to longer chapter books. The words “Our Time” are important: they value the time of the child. As my daughter once said, she wanted “books kids like, not books adults think kids should like”. The annual OTTER nominees strive to meet that request.

OTTER nominees also aim to aid parents and teachers whose children need access to new, quality, kid-friendly reading material.  There are a handful of books commonly recommended to for children ages 6-9…but this award anticipates expanding young reading horizons and building bridges to longer, more complex chapter books.

The 2015-2016 school year an OTTER pilot project was undertaken, with colleague Monica Hodges running a version in Mt Vernon while my colleagues and I ran a similar pilot in Bellevue.

2015-2016 BSD OTTER Pilot Nominees

2015-2016 Mt Vernon OTTER Pilot Nominees

WLMA found our pilots successful, and we are now thrilled (along with 3 new committee members from across the state) to work toward April 23, when we will meet and announce the 2016-2017 OTTER Nominees.

Our selection criteria:

  • copyright year 2014-2015 (the 2 years prior to the upcoming school years)
  • 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

We are diligent in finding new books to both read and obtain student response, with over 20 titles on our reading list. Please COMMENT with any beginner chapter books (similar to the ones above) that would fit the criteria for the OTTER Award. 

Thanks for your thoughtful consideration. It is truly an honor and dream to bring this much-needed book award to life!


4 thoughts on “WA’s newest book award: The OTTER Award

  1. Mary VanderPloeg

    Hello. I am considering buying some of the Otter Award books for my students for next year. They look really fun!
    I read aloud the WCCPBA books and have had the Sasquatch titles.
    What is the suggested amount of reading for kids to be able to vote for the Otter Award? Or doesn’t it matter?
    (I ask the students who read the Sasquatch titles to read at least two before they can vote.
    I also use the Sasquatch Award titles for my school battle of the books).

    Thank you,
    Mary VanderPloeg, Teacher/Librarian
    Vancouver Public Schools

    1. ajdickens Post author

      Hi Mary! Thanks for writing! The OTTER is similar to Sasquatch in that we ask students to read 2 or more titles to vote. With these titles being kid-read and approved AND shorter in length, we hope they’ll find a few more that they want to read, too! I had a half-dozen or more copies of each in our pilot OTTER, and found that they would circulate every week so long as I held up the copies that were available right before check out (the 2nd graders don’t place holds). The books FLEW out of the room! Happy reading in Vancouver, and let us know which nominees your students find most exciting! –arika

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