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Insider Article [March 2013] [03/05/13] (California Young Reader Medal)
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California Young Reader Medal

young reader medal recipients
Rama Deshpande and Christine Nguyen, CYRM presenters and fifth graders from Payne Elementary School in San José.

Next year, the California Young Reader Medal (CYRM) will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. Since its inception in 1974, the CYRM program has encouraged recreational reading of popular literature among the young people of California—who help to nominate, read, and vote for the winning books. In the first year, 8,000 participants read the same four books and voted for their favorite, Thomas Rockwell’s How to Eat Fried Worms. Currently, between a quarter and a half million California young readers vote annually for their favorite books in five distinct categories.

How does a book become a CYRM winner? The two-year cycle from the nomination of a book to the presentation of a medal to an author and illustrator begins when California young readers recommend their favorite book in five categories: Primary (K-3rd grades), Intermediate (3rd-6th grades), Middle School/Junior High (6th-8th grades), Young Adult (9th-12th grades) and Picture Books for Older Readers (4th grade and up). These favorites, or frequently requested titles noted by teachers or librarians, are submitted to the CYRM Committee who read every suggested title.

The Committee members, who represent the four statewide organizations that sponsor the CYRM—the California Association of Teachers of English, the California Library Association, the California Reading Association, and the California School Library Association—then narrow the choices to five in the Primary category and three in each of the others. Qualifying criteria for these titles are that the books are original works, available in English, published within the previous four years, still in print, and written by an author who is still living. More importantly, nominated works must be quality literature that has strong appeal for the age group for which they are recommended.

After the nominated titles are announced, it is time for California Young Readers to choose their favorite. Librarians and teachers throughout California use materials developed by CYRM members and promoted on the CYRM website, to run the CYRM reading and voting program in their local schools and libraries. Once California’s young readers finish reading and vote, their ballots are sent to the committee. The committee tallies the votes and the medal winners are announced.

The CYRM medals are presented to winning authors and illustrators at the annual conference of each sponsoring organization, where local California young readers are invited to present the bronze medals to the winners, who in turn give acceptance speeches and sign copies of their books. Join us for CLA’s next CYRM luncheon on Monday, November 4, 2013, in Long Beach, where the medal for the winning Young Adult author will be presented.

Interested in becoming a CLA CYRM representative in January 2014? Any active CLA member may express interest by sending an email to cyrmreads@gmail.com. For more information about the California Young Reader Medal Committee, visit us on the web at www.californiayoungreadermedal.org or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/California-Young-Reader-Medal/153350284690541?fref=ts or contact us at cyrmreads@gmail.com.

Kelly L. Hulbert, Regional Youth Services Coordinator, County of Los Angeles Public Library
Carolyn D. Reed, Children’s Librarian II, County of Los Angeles Public Library
Co-Chairs, California Young Reader Medal Committee
California Library Association Representatives