In 1980, students in Minnesota voted in the first student book choice award. Named to honor a Mankato children's book author, the Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award is determined each year by students in grades 3 to 5 and 6 to 8. Students read books and vote for their favorites through their school or public libraries.

Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy stories tell about growing up in the 1900s and are set in Deep Valley, Minn., a fictional town based on Mankato, where Lovelace lived until she graduated from high school. She wrote 13 books in the Betsy-Tacy series. A "history player" from the Minnesota History Center plays the role of Maud Hart Lovelace at events throughout Minnesota promoting her stories and the student choice award program.

In 2013, MYRA added the Star of the North Picture Book Award. Students in grades K-2 read or listen to eight picture book nominees to be qualified to vote. Like the Maud Hart Lovelace award, regional reading groups nominate titles, with group representatives meeting to create the nomination list.

Student voting takes place at the libraries in March and celebrations are held at the end of April to announce the year's winners and next year's nominated titles. In 2016, 59,633 students voted to determine the honorees. The award winners are presented with their awards in a fall ceremony, giving students a chance to meet their favorite authors.

The best part of the Minnesota Youth Reading Awards year is learning which books the students enjoyed reading the most, and watching as the votes are tallied to discover the winner. We are always surprised.

Connie Stirling is a White Bear Lake elementary media specialist and has been a MYRA board member since 2006.


Volunteer Opportunity
Do you read the Maud Hart Lovelace Nominees? Do you like a fun challenge? MYRA is looking for a group of media specialists/librarians to take on the Battle of the Books, developing a series of questions based on the Maud Hart Lovelace nominees. These questions are made available to MYRA membership to use with youth who participate in the program. For more information, email: Claire,

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