THE HUNGER HEROES: MISSED MEAL MAYHEM Lands on the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr. List!

In case you missed my shouting and celebrating about it on social media, I thought I’d share it here: The Hunger Heroes: Missed Meal Mayhem recently landed on the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr. list — and in some absolutely incredible company!

The Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) program is run by the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Every year, committees made up of Florida’s most passionate, hard-working school librarians and media specialists read hundreds of kids’ books and put together three lists: one for Grades 6-8, one for Grades 3-5, and one for all lower grades (that’s where the “Jr.” of SSYRA Jr. comes in). These lists are used across the state, in every county and pretty much every single school, to organize the following school year’s reading. Every school is going to do things a little differently, bringing their own creativity to how the books are explored and used, but when one of your books makes the list, you can be sure that you’re in store for several months of being flooded with tweets and emails about the incredible things librarians and kids are doing with your work.

I can say all this with such confidence because — it still feels a little surreal to say this — this is my THIRD time on the SSYRA lists. My first book, EngiNerds, was on the Grades 3-5 list a few years back, and just last year, the first book in my Geeger the Robot early chapter book series, Geeger the Robot Goes to School, was on the SSYRA Jr. list. Thanks to being on the list, I have made over a dozen trips to Florida in recent years, and have been lucky enough to meet and work with thousands and thousands of young Florida readers. I’m beyond thrilled that, with the first graphic novel chapter book in my Hunger Heroes series being on the list, I’ll get to meet and work with even more.

And I’ve said it before, and I’ll surely say it tons more in the future: but there is something special about the Florida literacy community, and about the librarians and media specialists that are the heart of it. They make a BIG DEAL about books, and not only because they’re book-lovers themselves, but because they understand what making a BIG DEAL about books can do for the kids they serve — that that’s a big part of helping turn them into book-lovers as well. Another thing: baked into the SSYRA program, evidenced every day all over the state in the way that schools and librarians are using the books on the lists, is the idea that books are, and can most powerfully be used, as launchpads. (If you’ve ever heard me present, you’ve definitely heard me say this before.) That books aren’t just there to be read — but to also serve as springboards, as sources of inspiration and motivation, as tools to propel their readers back into their worlds and lives with something they didn’t have before. Teaching kids this, showing them how this works and how it can be done — this is, I believe, one of the best ways to turn them into book-lovers and lifelong readers, and is one of the best things we can do in our work to prepare them for their futures. It’s also one of the core principles and guiding missions of my work.

All of which is to say: I’m overjoyed and honored, and so looking forward to another year working with Florida librarians, media specialists, educators, administrators, booksellers, parents, and — most importantly, as always — KIDS. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the SSYRA Jr. committee. Now, let’s get to work.

~ Jarrett

Learn more about the SSYRA program and FAME here.

GEEGER THE ROBOT GOES TO SCHOOL on the SSYRA Jr. List!

Yesterday, Geeger the Robot had a very good day.

At 10 o’clock yesterday morning, I learned that Geeger the Robot Goes to School had been included on this year’s Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr. list. What does that mean? It means that kindergarteners, first-graders, and second-graders all across the state of Florida will be reading Geeger the Robot Goes to School this coming year, along with the 14 other book that were named to the SSYRA Jr. list. Then, in April, all those kids — tens of thousands! — will vote to decide which book is their favorite. The book with the most votes gets the award.

Two years ago, another one of my books — EngiNerds — was on the SSYRA list (not the Jr. list, but the one for third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders). I was honored, of course, and excited — but I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea just how creative, energetic, and enthusiastic Florida librarians, educators, and KIDS are — and especially when it comes to BOOKS. Because of EngiNerds‘s inclusion on the list, I met hundreds of educators and librarians and connected with thousands of kids that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise met and connected with. Getting a book on an SSYRA list is kind of like getting invited to a year-long party — and everyone at the party is a big ol’l BOOK NERD.

Here are the other books keeping Geeger company on the the SSYRA Jr. list.

I’ve read — and loved! — about half of these other books, and being on the list along with them makes the honor all the more awesome. I plan to read the rest over the course of the year (or, you know, maybe just over the course of this weekend…). But anyway, I can’t recommend them enough. And I can’t recommend enough that you check out the SSYRA lists for Grades 3-5 and Grades 6-8. The committees put together some truly exceptional lists. (You can find those lists, plus past ones, and learn more about SSYRA in general by clicking HERE. More info about SSYRA Jr. can be found HERE.)

Thank you to the SSYRA Jr. committee for including Geeger the Robot Goes to School on this year’s list, and thank you to the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) for all the work they do to create such a robust and joyful culture of reading in their state and its schools. Let the party begin!

~ Jarrett

EngiNerds on the SSYRA List!

This morning I learned that EngiNerds is on the Sunshine State Young Readers Award list for Grades 3-5!

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It’s a huge honor, and also a bit surreal to see my book on there along with so many that I’m a fan of! A big, heartfelt THANK YOU to those who nominated my book, and thank you to all the young Florida readers who will be reading and considering EngiNerds for the award!

~ Jarrett