For the fourteenth year, children have chosen the best read aloud picture books in Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards program.
A comical snail with a French accent who wants to be everyone’s favorite animal is the winner of the 2018 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award. Escargot was written by Dashka Slater, illustrated by Sydney Hanson, and published by Farrar Straus Giroux. The Wanda Gág Honor book, After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again written and illustrated by Dan Santat, is based on the nursery rhyme and is about perseverance and facing your fears.
The 2018 winner of the Comstock Read Aloud Book Award is The Survivor Tree written by Gaye Sanders, illustrated by Pamela Behrend, and published by The RoadRunner Press. This story is narrated by a tree that survives the Oklahoma City bombing and serves as a symbol of healing and renewal. The Comstock Honor Books for 2018 are Pocket Full of Colors: the Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire written by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville, and illustrated by Brigette Barrager; The Youngest Marcher: the Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist written by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton; and Her Right Foot (the story of the Statue of Liberty) written by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris.
Twenty regional teachers and librarians, along with 160 MSUM students, read aloud over 200 picture books to 22,000 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 284,521 children have participated in the Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards program since its inception. After the award books are selected, a large number of books are donated to area libraries, schools, and nonprofits, with over 10,000 picture books donated to date.
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.