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The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for Beginning Reader Books

Winners Delight Beginning Readers

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Since 2006, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award has been awarded annually "to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year." (ALA/ALSC Award site). Each annual Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is administered by a committee appointed by the president of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). Author(s) and illustrator(s) who are citizens or residents of the United States are eligible for the award.

The award is named after Theodor Geisel, known to generations of children and their families as Dr. Seuss.

“A person’s a person no matter how small," Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, would say. 'Children want the same things we want: to laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted.' Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped them to read.” (ALA/ALSC Award site)

Dr. Seuss was a pioneer in creating beginning reader books and many of his books remain very popular, including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. In fact, the latter book inspired a cookbook, the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook.

The books chosen can vary considerably, from a book with just one or several words, to a book in comic book/graphic novel format to an early chapter book.  For example, one of the 2014 Geisel Honor Books is Ball, a small picture book about a dog, the little girl who loves him and his ball.  The book's text is made up of repetitions of the word "ball" in various situations.  The 2010 Geisel Medal winner, Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! written and illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes is a TOON Book, a graphic novel for beginning readers and the 2012 Geisel Medal winner, Tales for Very Picky Eaters, written and illustrated by Josh Schneider, is an early chapter book.

As of 2014, author and Illustrator Mo Willems' books have won the most Geisel awards. His Elephant and Piggie series is extremely popular with young children as a read aloud and with children who are beginning readers. One of my favorites in the series is I Broke My Trunk!  Another is We Are in A Book!

Some of my other favorite Geisel honorees are Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, which is part of the very funny Mercy Watson series, Bink and Gollie, written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, with illustrations by Tony Fucile, one of three books about the two very different friends, and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, which  was written by Eric Litwin. James Dean, who illustrated the book, also created the Pete the Cat character. Pete the Cat has become a very popular character and there are now numerous books about him.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Winners

If your child is ready for beginning readers, the books honored through the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award provide an excellent resource. These enjoyable beginning reader books, at the appropriate reading level for a beginning reader, will provide a gentle introduction to the joys of independent reading.

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