2022 CLEL Bell Award Selection Committee

CLEL Bell Advisor
Kimberly Powers, Children's Librarian, Englewood Public Library

I applied to the CLEL Bell Committee initially in 2015 and I enjoyed the experience so much that I returned to co-chair the committee for a couple of years.  Unable to give it up completely, I currently act as an advisor to the committee and assist the co-chairs as needed.  I love how the CLEL Bells identify and bring notice to great books that support the literacy goals of the library world and provide a resource for parents and pre-school teachers to practice these important skills.


I love so many of the CLEL Bell Winners, but Moo by David LaRochelle will always be one of my very favorites.

Committee Chair
Mollie K. Lancaster, Early Literacy Librarian, Arapahoe Libraries

I applied to be on the 2020 CLEL Bell selection committee because, of course, I love picture books. I continued as a co-chair and chair to get to know picture book lovers all over the state and country! My favorite CLEL Bell book would have to be It's Okay by Shiow-Miin Tsai (Reycraft Books). It's important for adults to show children mistakes can be made into something new.

Committee Co-Chair
Julie Crabb, Children's Guide, Anythink Libraries - Wright Farms

As an early literacy superhero, joining the Bells felt like a new adventure with books and the five practices. The adventure has allowed her more confidence in sharing new titles while also committing her to early literacy work in Colorado. Her favorite CLEL Bell award winner is The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee which won in 2021 for the category of 'Talk'. That book reminds her of her own childhood when her parents would bring her to their side gig, cleaning an office building, where she would make up her own stories about the people who worked there.

Committee Member, 2nd Year
Melanie Borski-Howard, Youth Services Specialist, Boulder Public Library

Melanie has been doing storytimes for the past 20 years. She loves any excuse to read children's picture books and thus felt is made sense to be on the CLEL BELL Award Committee. She has also co-written the book, Storytime and Beyond: Having Fun With Early Literacy, published by Libraries Unlimited. Right now, her favorite CLEL Bell book is My Rainy Day Rocket Ship, by Markette Sheppard.

Shannon Brennan-Library.JPG
Committee Member, 1st Year
Shannon Brennan, Children's Librarian,  Bemis Public Library

I applied for the CLEL Bells Selection Committee because I have a strong passion for early literacy and strive to include these elements in my story times and educating parents in these resources. My favorite Bell winner is How to Read to a Grandma or Grandpa by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish (Alfred A. Knopf, Inc).

Committee Member, 1st Year
Ashley Fahey, Youth & Family Services Librarian, Douglas County Libraries - Lone Tree

I applied because 1) LOVE picture books 2)was seeking leadership opportunities outside my library. My favorite book is a 2020 shortlist nominee called Who Has Wiggle-Waggle Toes? by Vicky Shiefman and illustrated by Francesca Chessa.

Committee Member, 2nd Year
Suzanne Gelwick-Knight, Children's Library Associate, Englewood Public Library

I chose to be a part of the CLEL selection committee because I believe in the Mission of CLEL. I also have a strong fondness for picture books. My favorite CLEL winner, so far, is My Rainy Day Rocketship, by Markette Sheppard.

Committee Member, 1st Year
Mary Ann Lawler, Children's Librarian, Broomfield Library

The CLEL Bell Committee seemed like a great opportunity to get to know other librarians around Colorado and talk about children's books and early literacy - what could be better?

I really love My Rainy Day Rocket Ship for how it shows a child supported by their parents in playful learning and how it clearly shows how many other literacy practices naturally come alive when families engage together in play. The Paper Kingdom is my runner-up favorite.

Committee Member, 2nd Year
Brigitta Meyerhofer, Librarian, Hillsborough Public Library Cooperative, Hillsborough County, FL

I applied for Bells two years ago because I have a passion for children's literature. Storytime is my favorite program in the library world, and I wanted to learn about the best new books to share with my patrons. Last year I moved from Colorado to Florida, but still participated in the CLEL Committee because it's such a fun group! My favorite past nomination is Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe.

Committee Member, 1st Year
Maureen Quinlan, Children's Librarian, High Plains Library District - Riverside Library

I love picture books because on the surface it's a story, but underneath there is so much more to explore: windows to other experiences, a mirror reflecting your own image back, opportunities to learn and bond. 


My favorite winner: 2017 Write Winner: Alphonse, That Is Not Ok to Do! by Daisy Hirst

Committee Member, 2nd Year
Catherine Retzlaff, former Storytime Specialist and current volunteer, Arapahoe Libraries (ret.)

I applied for the Bells because I love children’s picture books and I wanted to keep current on all the wonderful books being published. My favorite Bell 2021 winner book is The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee, illustrated by Pascal Campion. In addition to demonstrating how talking with our children helps to build their vocabulary, the story also shows how powerfully grownups can use imagination to help their children cope with difficult circumstances.

Committee Member, 2nd Year
Keely Smith, Children & Teen Buyer, Anythink Libraries

I’ve always had a soft spot for picture books; especially ones that promote early literacy skills. I also love the focus of the CLEL Bell award and the potential these books have to bring families together. The opportunity to be surrounded by great picture books and talk about them with other early-literacy minded people is what drew me to the CLEL Bell committee.  


What my favorite Bell shortlist/winner is: There are too many! If I had to choose just one, I really enjoyed Fern and Otto: A Picture Book Story about Two Best Friends. It’s not everyday you encounter a story about a gentle bear named Fern and a cat named Otto. They are on a mission to write a story about their friendship, but Otto thinks everything they do as friends (taking cat naps in the sun, for example) is too boring to write about. So, they take a walk in the woods for inspiration and come across several classic fairytale characters we all know and love. And you know what? Stories about eating porridge, racing a tortoise or visiting Grandmother’s house aren’t boring at all. 

Committee Member, 1st Year
Jennifer Sullivan, Librarian/Assistant Manager, Pueblo City-County Library District - Lamb Branch

I applied for the Bells because I've always wanted to serve on an awards committee and I wanted to be more involved with other children's librarians in the state, one of my favorite past winners/finalists is Dreamers by Yuyi Morales.