The Rocky Mountain Book Award invites students and educators to participate in our readers’ choice program. This program is designed to stimulate the reading interests of students in grades 4 – 7. The Rocky Mountain Book Award is an Alberta based program designed to connect young readers with exemplary Canadian literature.
The Rocky Mountain Book Award is a readers’ choice program, which invites students to choose the best book from a shortlist. This Alberta-based program is designed to stimulate the reading interests of students in grades 4-7. Students and educators are invited to read exemplary Canadian literature, and then the students vote for their favorite book. This award program is for schools, libraries, and interested groups of students. This may include children who are being home-schooled or families who wish to become involved in reading good Canadian children’s literature. Each reading group must have a teacher or adult leader.
The groundwork for the establishment of the Rocky Mountain Book Award was started by a group of teachers, teacher-librarians, children’s and educational librarians and booksellers. This group found they had a shared commitment to connecting young people with good Canadian literature written especially for them. The Rocky Mountain Book Award was born of the conviction that as so much competes for the young person’s attention, it behooves that adults around them present only the very best of the hundreds of books available. This children’s choice book award is the only Alberta program of its kind and is aimed at increasing the literacy level of Alberta grade 4 – 7 students. This population includes 180,000 students who have free access to this program via the Internet.
Many of the people involved with the initial Rocky Mountain Book Award proposal had worked on the University of Lethbridge Young Reader’s Choice award that was one of the original Canadian reader’s choice awards. The award began in 1978 and was ended in 1994 because of financial cutbacks at the University of Lethbridge. The University of Lethbridge Award drew participants from all over Alberta.
The Rocky Mountain Book Award began in the 2000 – 2001 school year. Publicity was very limited, still 45 schools took part. Each year we have seen an increase in our participation. During the last school year(2004-2005) 6200 students where registered.
Our largest expense during the past year was the visit by Canadian Authors Karen Levine and Alan Cumyn. They visited four Alberta schools Lethbridge, Calgary, Spruce Grove, and Thorsby. Our other winning school in Manning opted for a gift of books rather than an author visit. Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine was the winner of the 2004 Rocky Mountain Book Award, while Alan Cumyn was the runner-up. Ned Mouse Breaks Away by Tim Wynne-Jones was the winner of the 2005 Rocky Mountain Book Award. During the 2005-2006 school year our winning author will visit schools in Lethbridge, Stettler, Calgary and Edmonton.
Project’s Purpose and Objectives
The purpose of the Rocky Mountain Book Award reading program is to promote quality Canadian literature and to enrich and broaden a child’s reading experience. It brings an excellent selection of recent Canadian children’s books to the attention of Alberta children. The program promotes literacy and rewards them for reading by making them the judges in a province-wide event. Through the participation of the children, the Rocky Mountain Book Award encourages Canadian writing, Canadian authors, and the improvement of reading skills.
The Rocky Mountain Book Award program provides teachers, teacher-librarians, librarians, parents and writers with insight into young people’s reading preferences. It further affords an opportunity to honour and encourage imaginative authors who create works with high appeal to Alberta children.
Most importantly, the Rocky Mountain Book Award gives children the opportunity to be involved. The children benefit from the obvious encouragement to read and also through the opportunity to see their opinion honoured.
Finally the winning author is united with the voters in an author tour. Traditionally names of four of five of the participating schools were drawn. The Rocky Mountain Book Award Committee then makes arrangements and financially supports this geographically symbolic tour.
A shortlist of 20 current Canadian fiction, non-fiction and poetry books is selected annually. Members of this selection committee include teachers, librarians, book sellers, parents and students. This list is then made available through the website, a full-colour poster and brochure is sent to each Alberta school and participating Public Libraries.
Who Can Participate
Alberta children in grades 4, 5, 6, or 7 may participate. This award program is for schools, libraries, and interested groups of students. This may include children who are being home-schooled or families who wish to become involved in reading good Canadian children’s literature. Each reading group must have a teacher or adult leader.
How the Children Participate
A teacher or adult leader must register a reading group made up of a minimum of three children on the Rocky Mountain Book Award website (http://rmba.lethsd.ab.ca/) Students must have read or have read aloud to them, a minimum of five books from the combined list of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. However, students are encouraged to read as many of the titles as possible to provide the most well informed vote. The adult leader or teacher then submits the votes electronically via the award’s website. In addition the students are encouraged to submit book reviews to the website, sharing their insights and enthusiasm for the titles. The book receiving the most votes wins and the winner is announced on World Book and Copyright Day on April 23.
How the Winning Author Participates
The winning author is offered an opportunity to tour the province, visiting randomly selected participating schools. (Should this not fit with his/her schedule, the tour is offered to the runner-up.) The students are invited into a dialogue with the winning author – stimulating, inspiring and motivating students and teachers.
A medal cast in gold in the mold of the logo is awarded the winning author.
Literacy and Reading Skills
The entire province of Alberta benefits from the Rocky Mountain Book Award. By presenting exemplary Canadian literature to Alberta children, their literacy skills are strengthened and their reading experience is expanded. Provincial and national educators and others working with children use the Rocky Mountain Book Award website and pamphlets as a book selection tool.
Writing and Communication Skills
In addition to the exposure to quality literature, which leads to improved writing skills, the students are supported in their own writing endeavours by the visiting author(s). As well children are encouraged to write reviews about the books they have read and submit them to the Rocky Mountain Book Award Website. Many teachers use various titles in these lists as springboards or prototypes for creative writing assignments. While other titles are used as resource materials for research papers.
Cultural and Social Awareness
Through works of fiction and non-fiction children are introduced in a safe setting to other worlds, cultural sensibilities, and different times in history. As well as connecting with experiences familiar to them.
Information – Knowledge – Wisdom
Reading a broad spectrum of good literature provides children with the opportunity to obtain information that they can apply to other situations giving them greater knowledge control of their world. This in turn gives their lives relevance and a context giving them the wisdom to make well-informed decisions and be productive citizens.
“Every reader his or her book. Every book its reader.”
S.R. ( Shiyali Ramamrita ) Ranganathan, an Indian Mathematician turned Librarian, penned these rules as two of his five rules of library science. Almost a century later it is still the goal of teachers and librarians to connect the right book with the right reader.
Contact with Authors
The Rocky Mountain Book Award also provides the opportunity for authors to visit cities and towns that may not otherwise benefit from such visits. Though the large urban centres of Calgary and Edmonton have opportunities to present authors to the public, smaller communities surrounding these areas, along with those in northern and southern Alberta, do not always have the same opportunities. The Rocky Mountain Book Award has made it a priority to bring its winning authors to Alberta. The winner is invited to Alberta to speak at a number of participating schools. The schools receiving the author visit are chosen by random draw from a pool of all participating schools. This provides students with the invaluable opportunity to meet their favourite authors.
Enhanced Library Collections
The lists of books chosen for the Rocky Mountain Book Award by the professionals on the book award committee, are often used as selection tools by school librarians, school library assistants, public librarians home schooling parents and parents in general. In other words, these lists add depth and breadth to library collections, as well as offering those with the task of spending library dollars titles of books worthy of their valuable resources.
Direct support of the “ Alberta Learning English Arts Curriculum”
This program directly supports three areas of the Alberta curriculum:
- Identify and discuss favourite authors, topics of print text.
- Assess a variety of print texts and discuss preferences for particular forms.
- Experience print texts from a variety of cultural traditions and genres, such as autobiographies, myths, legends and etc.
- Improved literacy skills in Alberta students
- Broadening cultural and social awareness in students, teachers and support staff
- More Canadian books in school libraries
- Improved self esteem
- Increased number of participants (schools and individuals)
- Educating refreshing and encouraging teachers
- Rediscovering the magic moment when the reader finds the perfect book