For the 17th year, children have chosen the best read aloud picture books in Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards program.

The 2021 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award winner is The Bug Girl: A True Story written by the bug girl herself, Sophia Spencer and illustrated by Kerascoët. This book is about a young girl who loves bugs and is encouraged by entomologists to pursue her passion. The Bug Girl encourages children to never give up on their dreams even if they are bullied and teased by their peers.

Swashby and the Sea written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal was selected as a Wanda Gág Honor Book.

The 2021 winner of the Comstock Read Aloud Book Award is The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read written by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora. Mary Walker was an enslaved person who dreamed of freedom and more than anything wanted to learn how to read. All her life she was too busy working and supporting her family to go to school, but at the age of 114, she began reading classes and was finally able to read her beloved Bible at 116 years old. Mary lived until the ripe old age of 121 and frequently proclaimed, “You’re never too old to learn.”

Two titles were named as Comstock Honor Books. Flight for Freedom written by Kristen Fulton and A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story by Caren Stelson with illustrations by Akira Kusaka.

The awards program is administered by the staff of the MSUM Library’s Curriculum Materials Center, which holds a large collection of children’s books and resource materials for education majors and pre-service teachers. The Read Aloud Book Awards program 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.

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Pam Werre