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Reader's Choice


When thinking about award winning literature for children, the Newbery and Caldecott are the first ones that come to mind. While they are excellent awards and excellent books, the winners are chosen by adults. Why shouldn't kids get to choose the best books for kids? Illinois has two Reader's Choice Award programs for our students: the Monarch for grades K-3, and the Bluestem for 3-5.

Monarch Award Bluestem Award
K-3 3-5
Part of library curriculum for K-2.  
Independent for 3rd grade


Books on the 2018-19 List

(K - 3rd Grade)

(3rd - 5th Grade)

After the Fall by Dan Santat Ada's Violin by Susan Hood
Bob, Not Bob! by Liz Garton Scanlon & Audrey Vernick Amina's Voice by Hena Khan
Claymates by Dev Petty City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
A Different Pond by Bao Phi Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Emmanuel's Dream:  The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson Funny Bones:  Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh
If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson Game Changer:  John Mclendon and the Secret Game by John Coy
The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall I Dissent:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
John Deere, That's Who! by Tracy Nelson Maurer Moo by Sharon Creech
The Marigold Mess by Jacqueline Jules Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
The Night Gardener by Terry Fan & Eric Fan Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park
Six Dots:  A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant The Secret Subway by Shana Corey
Stay:  A Girl, A Dog, A Bucket List by Kate Klise The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
Tooth by Tooth:  Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers by Sara Levine A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
The Water Princess by Susan Verde Ugly:  A Memoir by Robert Hoge
We Are Growing by Laurie Keller What Was the Great Chicago Fire? by Janet B. Pascal

When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

Whoosh!  Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton
Zoey & Sassafras:  Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro

Wish by Barbara O'Connor


Important Dates

  • June - new lists announced 
  • Summer & Fall - students may read and report books using the Google Form
  • March - voting
  • May - deadline for rewards



To vote for the Bluestem, students in grades 3 through 5 must read at least 3 books from the Bluestem list. Students who are eligible to vote will receive an invitation with the date and time.

Voting for the Monarch will take place during K-2 library time.



The following rewards can be earned by 3rd through 5th graders for reading and reporting books on the current Reader's Choice list.

  • Read 3... to vote, and for an Eraser
  • Read 5... to vote, and for an eraser, and for five Bookmarks with your picture
  • Read 10... to vote, and for an eraser, and for five bookmarks with your picture, and for an Invitation to the Make-Your-Own-Bookmark Party!



Participating in the Reader's Choice program is optional.  Students in 3rd through 5th grades who are interested in earning rewards must report on the books they've read using the Google Form.  To get their report approved, the student must:

  1. Share their opinion
  2. Use text evidence from the book to support their opinion

CAN'T SEE THE QUESTIONS?  Watch this video to learn how to fix it!