Letters will be judged on content, structure, and creativity. All letters are independently scored by three reviewers during the first-round of judging, the results of which determine the five finalists from each state to move on to the final round of judging. Grand Prize winners will be selected from the pool of finalists by a panel of judges assembled by the Library of Congress including educators, children's authors, and Library of Congress staff.
American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
Members of the American Association of School Librarians comprise the panel for the first rounds of essay reading and scoring. The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), works to ensure all elementary and secondary school librarians participate as collaborative partners in the teaching and learning process in order to prepare students for life-long learning, informed decision-making, a love of reading, and the use of information technologies. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.
2017 Grand-Prize Judges
Danna Bell is an Educational Resources Specialist at the Library of Congress. A past president of the Society of American Archivists, Danna is interested in providing access to primary sources and helping teachers learn how to use them to engage students, encourage critical thinking and analysis, and construct knowledge. In addition to writing blog posts, tweets and other teacher materials, Danna also answers teacher's reference questions through the Library's Ask a Librarian page.
Fred Bowen is the author of 19 action-packed sports books for kids. He has also written a weekly sports column for kids in The Washington Post since 2000. Fred lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife Peggy Jackson. They have two grown children.
Maria Salvadore works as a consultant in children's literature, writing and reviewing for Reading Rockets, a national multimedia reading and literacy project as well as with other local and national organizations. Previously, Salvadore served as the Coordinator of Children's Services for the DC Public Library and worked in that capacity for the Cambridge (MA) Public Library. She has served on numerous book award and evaluation committees including the Newbery, Caldecott, Boston Globe/Horn Book, and ALSC/ALA Notable Books.
Jamie Uphold is the Gifted Youth and Leadership Coordinator for the Mensa Education and Research Foundation. She coordinates youth programs and services for the more than 5,000 young members of American Mensa, and provides support for gifted youth, educators, and parents.
Rachael Worthington Walker is passionate about helping kids develop a love of reading and has more than 20 years of experience in bringing organizations together to promote children's literacy. She consults on multimedia projects, develops reading motivation programs, and creates resources for parents and teachers to get kids excited about books. Visit her reading party at BelleoftheBook.com.
Past Guest Author Judges
2015 - Ellen Oh
Ellen Oh is co-founder and President of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and the author of the YA fantasy trilogy, The Prophecy Series, by HarperTeen. A former college instructor and recovering attorney, Oh was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Notable People of 2014.
2016 - Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds is the author of critically acclaimed “When I Was the Greatest,” for which he was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Coretta Scott King Honor books “Boy in the Black Suit” and “All American Boys” (cowritten with Brendan Kiely); and “As Brave as You,” his middle grade debut. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com. Jason will also be a presenter at the 2016 Library of Congress National Book Festival.