For the thirteenth year, children have chosen the best read aloud picture books in the Minnesota State University Moorhead’s (MSUM) Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards program.
The 2017 winner of the Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award for the preschool to eight year old category is “It Came in the Mail” written and illustrated by Ben Clanton and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. This humorous book reminds us that imagination is a powerful thing, especially when a child’s desire for some mail encourages him to think outside the “mail” box. The Wanda Gág Honor books are “The Darkest Dark” written by Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion and illustrated by Terry and Eric Fan, “The Night Gardener” written and illustrated by Terry and Eric Fan, and “What to Do With a Box” written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Chris Sheban. The Fan Brothers mark the first time that an illustrator team has won two Wanda Gág Read Aloud Honor awards in the same year.
The 2017 winner of the Comstock Read Aloud Book Award for the nine to twelve year old category is “Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles” written by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So and published by Chronicle Books. This book describes how a group of children in South Carolina work together on a project entitled, “Lights Out for Loggerheads.” The children inspire their whole town to shut off the lights along the beach so that hatching baby turtles head for the sea lit by the moon and not towards the man-made lights on shore. The Comstock Honor Books for 2017 are “Rules of the House” written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Matt Myers, and “Seven and a Half Tons of Steel” written by Janet Nolan and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. This is the second Comstock Read Aloud Book Award for Deborah Hopkinson who won in 2009 for her book, “Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek.”
Twenty-two regional teachers and librarians, along with 195 MSUM students read aloud over 200 picture books to almost 23,000 children during the year. The winners and honor books are determined after the Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards Committee examines feedback from readers, which includes responses from children to each of the books. The purpose of the program is to increase literacy, promote reading aloud to children, and to recognize outstanding authors and illustrators each year. A total of 262,484 children have participated in the Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards program since its inception. Each year after the award winners are selected, the Livingston Lord Library’s Curriculum Materials Center (CMC) donates a large portion of the picture books to area libraries, schools, and nonprofits. To date, over 8,600 picture books have been donated.
The awards program is administered by the staff of the MSUM Livingston Lord Library’s CMC, which holds a large collection of children’s books and resource materials for in-service teachers. The book awards project is partially funded by the Solomon G. Comstock Memorial Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation and the Wanda Gág Book Award Fund of the MSUM Alumni Foundation.