2023 Children’s Choice Award Winners 

Libraries and schools partner to celebrate and promote reading

The Children’s Choice Awards (CCA) hosted annually by the Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA) and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) celebrates reading and encourages school and public library collaboration. This year’s culminating event returned in-person following three years of either cancelled or virtual programs due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event was hosted in a new location as well, Commonwealth Charter Academy in Homestead, which offered the technology needed for some school districts to attend the keynote address via Zoom.

Author Caroline Carlson speaks to students at Commonwealth Charter Academy.

The keynote author was Caroline Carlson, author of the The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series, The World’s Greatest Detective and The Door at the End of the World. She also did Q & A sessions with the students, receiving questions about writing and reading. Carlson is a return keynote to the event, speaking for the first time in 2015. She lives in Pittsburgh.

In addition, musicians Josh & Gab returned for the first time in person to offer an anti-bullying presentation of songs and comedy. The event also included the ever-popular Battle of the Books. Spark Books was also on hand to provide books for students to purchase and Carlson to sign.

The committee, which is made up of a representative from ACLA, AIU, Bethel Park Public Library and Northland Public Library, with the input of school and public librarians chose the following eight titles:

  • Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King
  • Cookies and Milk by Shawn Amos
  • Dear Student by Elly Swartz
  • Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee
  • New From Here by Kelly Yang
  • The Boy Who Failed Dodgeball by Jordan Sonnenblick
  • The Ice Cream Machine by Adam Rubin
  • Those Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada Kelly

Students in grades 3-6 are encouraged to read three of the titles to attend the culminating event. Some read on their own, others participate in a library program, and many attend a school that includes the program as part of the curriculum. Throughout the months of March and April, students voted online for their favorite book. This year’s CCA winning title is The Boy Who Failed Dodgeball by Jordan Sonnenblick.

Nearly 400 students from across the county and region attended this year’s virtual Children’s Choice Awards. There were participants from four charter or private schools and four from outside of Allegheny County, as well as 16 school districts in Allegheny County, including those listed here with their public library:

  • Brentwood School District (Brentwood Library)
  • Carlynton School District (Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Crafton Public Library)
  • Elizabeth Forward School District (Carnegie Library of McKeesport)
  • Fox Chapel School District (Cooper-Siegel Community Library)
  • Gateway School District (Monroeville Public Library)
  • Hampton School District (Hampton Community Library)
  • Highlands School District (Community Library of Allegheny Valley)
  • Montour School District (Robinson Township Library)
  • Mt. Lebanon School District (Mt. Lebanon Public Library)
  • Northgate School District (Andrew Bayne Memorial Library and Avalon Public Library)
  • Penn Hills School District (Penn Hills Library)
  • Pine Richland School District (Northern Tier Regional Library)
  • Riverview School District (Oakmont Carnegie Library)
  • South Allegheny School District
  • West Allegheny School District (Western Allegheny Community Library)
  • West Jefferson Hills School District (Jefferson Hills Public Library and Pleasant Hills Public Library)

Picture Book Children’s Choice Awards & Pennsylvania One Book Initiative

In addition to the CCA, ACLA also hosts the Picture Book Children’s Choice Awards for students in grades K-2. This program provides libraries with an opportunity for outreach to elementary schools. As with the CCA, the students vote on their favorite title and this year’s title was Bathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty.  

The Office of Commonwealth Libraries also provides materials for the Pennsylvania One Book Initiative, which is geared towards preschool students. This year’s book is Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor. The Pennsylvania One Book initiative highlights the importance of early literacy development in young children and the significance of reading early and often to children, as well as engaging them in conversation and other activities around books.  

You can check out the nominated books for all of these programs at your local library. Visit acl.bibliocommons.com to place a hold today!