Kids Read. Kids Vote!

Books Are Mirrors and Windows

Some books are mirrors, reflecting experiences we can relate to. Others are windows, showing us views we’ve never been exposed to before. For Luke, a student at Woodside Elementary School in Sussex, the books he read for the Kids’ Choice Award program were both.

A Boy Called Bat is a mirror for me,” he said, “because I also have an annoying brother. The Last Kids on Earth is a window for me because I have never been in a zombie apocalypse,” he said. 

According to his mom, Luke read over half of the books for the Kids’ Choice Awards. He even bargained to stay up past his bedtime to read more of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl!

A Boy Called Bat

Kids' Choice Award Celebrates Twenty Years

20 years ago, in the fall of 2001, several public and school librarians in Waukesha County, along with staff at the Bridges Library System, started the Kids’ Choice Award program to encourage and promote a love of reading among fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. What started with 12 participating schools in one county has grown to include 48 elementary schools and 16 public libraries across Jefferson and Waukesha counties.

Paint splotch on graffiti brick wall with text that reads "Celebrating 20 years of Kids Choice"

“Kids’ Choice has been a bridge strengthening connections between our school and public libraries,” said Kay Koepsel-Benning, the Director of Library Services in the Elmbrook School District. “Our students see we are working together to give them mirrors and windows to the world through the books we encourage them to read.”

Each year, public librarians and school library media specialists meet throughout the year, working together to create the book lists and promote the program within the libraries and schools. The students are encouraged to read from a selection of 15 books and vote for their favorites using an online voting system.

This spring, 2,299 students cast their votes after spending the winter reading. The winner was the graphic novel When Stars Are Scatteredabout two Somali brothers living in a refugee camp in Kenya, one of whom takes an opportunity to get an education in order to help his brother. Talk about an incredible window for students!

What About You?

Books are powerful forces in our lives, helping us think, grow, and develop our minds and hearts. Thinking back on the books you’ve read, which ones have been mirrors and which ones have been windows? Which experiences have you learned about thanks to the pages of a book?

In libraries, and through the Kids’ Choice Award program, we love introducing students to new mirrors and windows. “Twenty years later, we are thrilled the Kids’ Choice Award program has grown and is going strong,” said Angela Meyers, the Youth Services Coordinator at the Bridges Library System. “We’re excited to continue this partnership into the future.”

Written by Jill Fuller, Marketing & Communications Librarian for Bridges Library System. A version of this article appeared in several local newspapers in March 2022. We are sharing those pieces here on our website a few weeks after each piece has been printed.