Announcing the 2023 CLEL Bell Award Winners

The CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards are an annual recognition of five high-quality picture books that provide excellent support of early literacy skills for young children in each of five categories: Read, Write, Sing, Talk, and Play. Eligible books were published or distributed in the United States between November 16, 2021 and November 15, 2022.

Many high quality books were nominated this year and the CLEL Bell Selection Committee worked tirelessly to choose this year’s winning books. A shortlist of 25 books (5 in each category) was announced in December. Each winning book supports caregiver engagement in one of the five early literacy practices: Read, Write, Sing, Talk, or Play and appeals to families of young children from diverse backgrounds. The winning titles are selected for their excellence in writing, illustration, and design as well as a unique approach to the theme.

We are proud to announce this year’s CLEL Bell Award Winners:

  • READ: Bathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by David Roberts (Chronicle Books)
  • PLAY: Baby’s Here by Jessica Young, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout (Clarion Books)
  • TALK: How to Say Hello to a Worm by Kari Percival (Rise x Penguin Workshop)
  • SING: Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie, illustrated by Julie Flett (Greystone Kids)
  • WRITE: The Gift by Alain Serge Dzotap, illustrated by Delphine Renon (Eedermans Books for Young Readers)

Each of the five winning titles also has an accompanying Early Literacy Activity Sheet, created by the selection committee. These activities are intended to extend learning play with young children, based on the themes of the book and are an excellent resource for librarians, caregivers, and early childhood teachers. Find the early literacy activities for this year’s winners, along with all of our past winners here.

Congratulations to the winning authors and illustrators. We are so impressed by these high quality books supporting early literacy for families from all backgrounds. Thank you to the 2023 CLEL Bell Selection Committee for your hard work. We hope you enjoy these books, use them in your storytimes, and share them with your community.

The application for the 2024 Selection Committee is now open. The application contains a few brief questions and a short homework assignment. Please review the involvement requirements before applying.