Check It Out! Week of September 14th


This week, we are looking at the 2016 Monarch and Bluestem Awards lists.

I am so glad to hear how many students were reading over the summer break! In keeping with the students’ excitement for reading, I am writing to let you know about the Illinois Reader’s Choice Awards that grades K-5 will be participating in again this year.  Last year, the students seemed to really enjoy reading books from the lists and then getting to vote for their favorites.  For me, it was wonderful to hear them sharing what they thought about the books with each other.


Grades K-2 will be reading to help choose the 2016 winner of the Monarch Award.  The name Monarch was chosen because of its familiarity to K-2 children and to symbolize the growth, change and freedom that becoming a reader brings. The Monarch is designed to encourage children to read critically and become familiar with children’s books, authors, and illustrators.


Grades 3-5 will be reading to help choose the 2016 winner of the Bluestem Award.  The award is designed for students in grades 3-5 who are ready for longer titles than found on the Monarch list, but not quite ready for the sophistication of some of the Rebecca Caudill titles (for grades 4-8). Named in honor of Big Bluestem which is the state prairie grass, the award may include both timeless classics and current titles, as well as books that have appeared on Monarch and Rebecca Caudill lists. 

Students may read these books on their own, but we will also be reading some of these titles in library class as time allows.  We have at least one copy of each title in the ES library, and students are welcome to visit their local library and check them out there, as well.  Students need to read 4 (Bluestem) or 5 (Monarch) books to be eligible to vote, but of course can read up to all 20 books on their particular list.  They will then come to library class and tell me what books they have read as they finish them.  We will be keeping track of their progress together.  Then, sometime in February or March, the students will vote for their favorite books.

I am very excited about participating in an event with so many other schools and public libraries across Illinois. Students are taking notes home on their library class days.  

Click here for PDFs of the Monarch and Bluestem book lists.   


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