Join the 2025 CLEL Bells Committee

Hi!  My name is Holly, and I have been on the CLEL Bell Awards committee for two years. I am excited to stay on for a third year as a co-co-chair. (Yes, I meant to put two “co”s there.)  Now, I am normally not the type to volunteer myself to take on more responsibilities. I’m …

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Announcing the 2024 CLEL Bell Award Winners


COLORADO – Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy today announced five winning picture books that exemplify the early literacy practices READ, WRITE, SING, TALK, and PLAY. Winners were selected from a 25-title shortlist put forth by the awards committee and voted on by library and early childhood professionals from around Colorado.

The 2024 CLEL Bell Aware Winners are:

READ – “This is a Story” written by John Shu and illustrated by Lauren Castillo. The book is published by Candlewick. 

WRITE – “Scroll” written and illustrated by Hui Li. The book is published by Christy Ottaviano Books (Little, Brown and Company). 

TALK – “A Day with No Words” written by Tiffany Hammond and illustrated by Kate Cosgrove. The book is published by Wheat Penny Press. 

PLAY – “Quiet Time with My Seeya” written and illustrated by Dinale Dabarera. The book is published by Roaring Book Press.

SING – “We Belong to the Drum” written by Sandra Lamouche and illustrated by Azby Whitecalf. The book is published by Orca Book Publishers. 

The CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards are an annual recognition of five high-quality picture books that provide excellent support for early literacy skills for young children. A winner is chosen in each of 5 categories that support early literacy: READ, WRITE, TALK, PLAY, and SING

CLEL Bell Award Criteria:

  • Theme or content related to one of the five early literacy practices: Read, Write, Sing, Talk, or Play
  • Distinction or uniqueness in presentation of relevant theme or content
  • Supports and/or models parent and caregiver engagement with their children through early literacy practices 
  • Ability to appeal to parents or caregivers and their young children (ages birth-5) of diverse family situations
  • Excellence in writing, illustration, and design
  • Excellent book production (quality paper, binding, cover, etc)
  • Fiction and nonfiction are eligible. 

Announcing the 2024 CLEL Bell Awards Shortlist

We are pleased to announce the shortlist titles for the 10th annual CLEL Bell Awards. The 2024 year was historic in its submissions, committee involvement, and display of diversity. The way the award has evolved in the past 10 years speaks to how early literacy librarians have a voice in ensuring all our patrons are …

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A CLEL Bells Conversation – Hispanic Heritage Month

Kate Fitzpatrick, a 2024 CLEL Bell Awards Committee Member, talks about two titles she’s been using and loving in her storytimes. These are titles that were suggested for the practice of PLAY for the 2024 CLEL Bell Award. Enjoy! Kate Fitzpatrick (she/her) Kate Fitzpatrick is a Bilingual Children’s and Teens’ Librarian for Longmont Public Library. …

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Never Forget Eleanor

by Andy Gallegos, Early Literacy Librarian at Arapahoe Libraries, 2024 CLEL Bells Committee Member The CLEL Bell Awards have been given to children’s picture books since 2013. These awarded books are determined through the meticulous scrutiny of the CLEL Bell Committee. With so many amazing picture books that get published every year, this can be …

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Learning through conversation with Brain Quest board books

By Alison Loewen, Librarian at Mead Public Library in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and member of 2024 CLEL Bell Awards Selection Committee I recently attended the annual American Library Association conference in Chicago. The event is a whirlwind of educational presentations and an exhibit hall filled with authors and illustrators, product vendors, universities, publishers, and others sharing …

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World Forum Sheds Light on Children’s Advocacy

Q&A with Melanie Borski-Howard, 2024 CLEL Bell Awards Committee Chair and Youth Services Specialist at Boulder Public Library, and Andrea Cleland, Early Literacy Librarian at Loveland Public Library In May 2023, Melanie Borski-Howard and Andrea Cleland, two stellar children’s librarians in Colorado, had the opportunity to present their “Let the Children March” presentation at the …

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Using CLEL Bell Titles in Storytime

by Karen Walker, Kids and Families Core Service Librarian, Jefferson County Public Library, Colorado, member of the 2024 CLEL Bell Awards committee “Have any of you been camping? ¿Alguien ha ido a acampar?” That was the question Rodney the Rat with his little backpack asked the kids at storytimes in May at one of my …

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How a CLEL Bell Award is Won

by Maureen Quinlan, 2024 CLEL Bell Awards Co-Chair Ever wonder how a CLEL Bell book goes from publication to winning the award? Here is the step-by-step process of how readers, books, and librarians all fit into the CLEL Bells puzzle. For a more in-depth analysis of our committee work, read on.  Book award committee work …

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