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Statewide Culture 2

The Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award 


Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

The gift of literacy should be treated like a valued treasure – a gem. The Arkansas Department of Education, the Arkansas State Library, and the Arkansas Literacy Association understand the value of promoting the love of reading for children. With this in mind, the Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award was established.

The goal of the award is to encourage reading for students in grades kindergarten through third grade. My family has been working through the list, and my children will each be voting for their favorite when the ballots are released this spring.

How the Book Awards Work

Every year, an Arkansas Diamond Book list is put out for children in primary grades, kindergarten through third. The goal is for them to read the books or for the books to be read to them. In May each child has the opportunity to vote on their favorite title. The book with the most votes claims the title of the Diamond Book Winner for that year.

Children need to only read three books on the list to be eligible to vote.

The books on this year’s list for the primary grades are:

  • “Where’s Rodney?” by Carmen Bogan
  • “Dad and the Dinosaur” by Gennifer Choldenko
  • “Before She Was Harriet” by Lesa Cline-Ransome
  • “There Might Be Lobsters” by Carolyn
  • “The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors” by Drew Daywalt,
  • “Great, Now We’ve Got Barbarians! by Jason Carter Eaton
  • “The Boy and the Whale” by Mordicai Gerstein
  • “Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire” by Amy Guglielmo
  • “Please Please the Bees” by Gerald Kelley
  • “My Awesome Summer by Mantisby Paul Meisel
  • “Remembering Vera” by Patricia Polacco
  • “Creepy Pair of Underwear!” by Aaron Reynolds
  • “After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again” by Dan Santat

My curious, science-loving, bug-catching, little six-year-old explorer is going cast his vote for “My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis.” This came as no surprise because the book is written from the perspective of a praying mantis and shares interesting facts about the life of the insect. This boy loves his bugs.

My history buff will cast his vote for “Before She Was Harriet.” He has been studying and reading about the Civil War, so this book struck his fancy. He found it interesting how the story unfolded Harriet Tubman’s life backward.

One more vote will be placed from our household, and it will go to “Pocket Full of Colors.” This book is a true story. Its colorful illustrations captured my daughter’s attention, and the interesting backstory of Walt Disney illustration history sealed the deal for her vote. In her opinion, this book is a winner.

Reading Activities

When we read great books in our house, we love to add extra activities with each title to make it more fun.

With “Please Please the Bees” from the list, we learned how to keep bees happy so we can have honey. We then went out immediately and bought some Arkansas Local Honey to enjoy.

Our favorite activity came from after reading “Pocket Full of Colors.” The story of how Mary Blair loved color and used cutting-edge ideas and techniques made her revolutionary for her time. She was asked to be a major contributor by Walt Disney himself to design the color scheme of the attraction “It’s a Small World” at Walt Disney World. The history inspired us to create our own art and play with color. This year’s book list became a gateway to more learning for our family.

Promoting reading with the Diamond Book awards isn’t just for the primary grades. The Charlie May Simon Arkansas book list is for children in fourth through sixth grades. Charlie May Simon was actually the pen name for an outstanding Arkansas author whose real name was Mrs. John Gould Fletcher. You can find the book list here.

There is also an Arkansas Teen Book list for students in seventh grade through high school with a level one list for seventh through ninth graders and a level two list for grades 10-12. Each list only has five books and students have until Aug. 31 to cast their votes. Sign up to be a teen reader for Arkansas at this site.

Voting will open up for the Diamond Book Award and Charlie May Simon Award on this site in May.

For the love of literacy, enjoy happy reading!

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Arkansas Women Blogger member Amanda Farris is a wife to her super hero hunk of a husband and a mother to 3 little kiddos. She is a teacher/coach who hung up her coaching whistle after she got promoted to motherhood. She is a runner who loves all things sports and outdoors. She loves long coffee chats with her husband,fresh flowers on her table, and hosting game nights. Her friends would call her a "gatherer of people" who loves building genuine community. She's just Living the Adventure!. You can find her occasionally blogging at amandafarris.org.

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2 responses to “The Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award ”

  1. Dianna Strayhorn says:

    As an elementary school librarian, I was excited to see this being promoted!! My students at McRae Elementary in Searcy enjoy these books each year! The students enjoy voting and seeing not only the results for our school but for the state.

  2. Dianna Strayhorn says:

    As an elementary librarian, I was excited to see the Diamond Books being promoted!! My students at McRae Elementary in Searcy enjoy these selections each year. They also enjoy seeing the voting results for not only our school but for the state as well.

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