Tag Archives: books for transitioning readers

2017-2018 OTTER Award Nominees!

The OTTER Award – Our Time To Enjoy Reading – is sponsored by the Washington Library Association: School Libraries Division.  A newer book award established in 2015, the committee is pleased to announce the 2017-2018 nominated titles.

  • The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Inc.)
  • Lola Levine Is Not Mean! by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez (Little, Brown)
  • The Great Pet Escape (Pets on the Loose) by Victoria Jamieson (Macmillan/Henry Holt)
  • The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers (Candlewick)
  • I am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (Penguin/Dial)
  • All Paws On Deck (Haggis and Tank Unleashed) by Jessica Young, illustrated by James Burks (Scholastic Inc.)

The goal of the OTTER Award is to highlight titles that encourage children to continue reading as they transition from picture books to longer chapter books.  Our motto is “books kids like, not books adults think kids should like”, and student feedback is taken into consideration when selecting the nominees.  A maximum of six titles are selected each year.  Nominated books should include developmentally-appropriate content, vocabulary, layout, and appeal.  Voting occurs in late April, and children should read at least two of the titles on the list. The winning title is announced in May.  For more information, please visit www.wla.org/the-otter-award.

Official press release: OTTER-press-release-2018

Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder

Does anyone else start reading a book by flipping to the author info page at the back to learn about a new writer?  Because I do.  Finding a way to connect with the author – from things we like to do to places we live – is part of my reader identity. This may be why I struggle to engage in ebooks…but that’s another post.

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes

In Charlie & Mouse, the author page didn’t disappoint. Laurel Snyder lives in my childhood hometown of Atlanta, GA (though I’d love to ask her, “where in Atlanta?”, as GA folk usually live in a suburb – for me, Marietta). Even better, Emily Hughes is down the road from my new home in London on the shores of Brighton. These blurbs hooked me. Even better was the story they created together.

Siblings Charlie and Mouse star in four short, illustrated chapters showcasing an ideal life as a kid.  From waking up Mom in the early morning to conjuring up a plan to earn money to interacting with neighbors, these brothers are exactly what young readers need: a breath of reality in an overstimulating world. Snyder makes some lovely, forward-thinking choices in characterization: Mouse chooses to wear a pink tutu, their couple next door are Mr. Eric & Mr. Michael, and the boys themselves are mixed-race. These choices, though, are noticed almost as an afterthought, as the story’s engaging plot line and characterization are strong.  Add in the full-color illustrations from Emily Hughes and this story is a winner for sharing as a read-aloud or independent reading. The boys truly shine with the addition of their grandfather in the sequel, Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy. Two worthy additions to the newly-expanding transitional reader market, this is a must-purchase for all libraries.  Share with ages 4-10.

Charlie & Mouse releases April 11, 2017.  Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy releases October 3, 2017.

Two of the previewed titles at 2017 London Book Fair at the Chronicle/Abrams booth.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂 arika

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson

The Great Pet Escape by Victoria Jamieson

After an ingenious escape from his locked cage, GW the hamster makes tracks to find – and free – his friends and fellow class pets Biter the guinea pig and Barry the rabbit. Reunited and ready to flee, GW and pals realize that they aren’t the only ones in the building…and like at school, seniority rules. A graphic novel for emerging and transitioning readers. (Ages 6-9)

One of the titles shared at Build a Better Collection, part of PSESD’s 2016 T-L Summit.

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!