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Local students vote for Bluebonnet Award recipient

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Local students vote for Texas Bluebonnet Award winners

Sixty-four Plainview ISD elementary students were among 141,141 Texas students in third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades to cast a vote to determine which children’s book would receive the coveted 2017 Texas Bluebonnet Award (TBA).

The winning book is selected from a Texas Bluebonnet Award master list of 20 books chosen by the TBA selection committee and released at the Texas Book Festival each October.

The nominated books, fiction and nonfiction, must have been written in the last three years by an author who resides and publishes in the United States. The committee also considers student interests, relevant content, reputable reviews and literary quality when selecting books to place on the nominating list.

Once the books are selected, school librarians across Texas register to participate in the voting process and place the books in the campus libraries for students to access.

According to Plainview ISD district librarian Susan Flippin, the award helps encourage reading for pleasure. Flippin adds that many students seem enthusiastic about participating in the voting and she hopes to see the program grow.

“I would love to see more voters as I believe these books represent a wide range of genres and there is interest for all. I am always looking for ways to challenge more to take up the Bluebonnet challenge and hope for the number of voters to climb each year in our schools,” said Flippin. “These books are for students in grades 3-6. I believe we could and should have 100 percent voting. That's the goal.”

Students qualify to cast individual votes by reading at least five books. The students have almost a year to read the nominated books and most students choose to read more than the required number.

“Each student keeps a reading map of the books they have read,” said Flippin. “They also either write a summary, take a reading quiz over the book, or answer questions asked by the library assistant at each campus.”

Voting for the Plainview students took place the week of Jan. 22-30.

“All voting has to take place by Jan. 31 so we wait until the last week of January to vote to give the students as much time as we can to read,” explains Flippin.

Votes are then submitted to the state committee for tabulation. Local students who participated in voting received certificates, a bluebonnet pencil, and a Texas-shaped bookmark at post-voting parties. These parties take place either at the time of voting or when the winner is announced depending upon the campus.

“Texas has many reading lists for different age groups, and there are programs planned for other grade levels, but the Bluebonnet Award is the oldest and the only one that students select the winner,” Flippin said. “Any author you talk to will tell you it is a coveted award because the kids chose, not the adults. Every author wants to win a Texas Bluebonnet Award.”

The title of the winning book, “The Last Kids on Earth,” was announced on Feb. 16. The Bluebonnet Award will be presented to the authors, Max Brallier, during the Texas Library Association Annual Conference each April.

Flippin said most of the Plainview students this year voted for the winning book. State-wide there were 22,757 votes for “The Last Kids on Earth.” Second place went to “The Great Pet Escape” by Victoria Jamieson and third place went to “Whoosh!” by Chris Barton and Don Tate.

“I am thrilled with the students who participated in this year’s voting,” said Flippin. “I thank each one of them for their commitment to reading the Bluebonnet nominees.”

Those interested in reading this year’s nominated books can find a complete list of the books on the Texas Library Association website under the Reading List section.

According to Flippin, the process of selecting next year’s Bluebonnet award winner is already underway. The 2018-2019 nominated books are arriving on the campuses and all campuses should have the books available for checkout in late March.

In order to build students interest in award winning books, Flippin also has implemented a “Texas 2 x 2” reading program for students age 2 to second grade.  Although this is a local program only, this group of students has been asked to read (or be read to) ten books from a list of 20 recommended books in order to receive their certificate.  Fourteen students qualified to vote for their favorite book. The winner was “I Will Not Eat You” by Adam Lehrhaupt.

Students in middle school and high school have the opportunity to participate in another local initiative, the “Lone Star” reading program. Flippin says these older students  will be voting on a favorite book from their reading list in April.