CLEL Bell Award Stickers

If you are interested in labeling the CLEL Bell Award winning books in your collection, you can now purchase sheets of stickers through Zazzle.

2024 Awards

The 2024 CLEL Bell winners in each category are:


“This is a Story” written by John Shu and illustrated by Lauren Castillo; published by Candlewick.

“This is a Story” is about a child who discovers the library, the joy of finding the perfect book, and how the act of reading can connect us to other people and the world. The book demonstrates great reading practices, like reading with friends. It also encourages readers to visit the library. The beautiful watercolor illustrations feature an array of books you might find at the library. We encourage readers to find the titles in the pages and on the shelves of their local libraries. 


“Scroll” written and illustrated by Hui L; published by Christy Ottaviano Books (Little, Brown and Company)

After observing her grandfather draw Chinese characters on a scroll, Lulu wants to try. And soon she and her dog Dumpling enter a magical world where the Chinese characters she draws come to life. 

WRITE Activity Sheet


“A Day with No Words” written by Tiffany Hammond and illustrated by Kate Cosgrove; published by Wheat Penny

Written by an Autistic mother of two Autistic sons, the story follows a mother and child and explores nonverbal communication and neurodiversity in an affirming fashion. “A Day with No Words” normalizes communication methods beyond just spoken language, which is one of the many reasons it was selected as the winner. 

TALK Activity Sheet


“Quiet Time with My Seeya” written and illustrated by Dinale Dabarera; published by Roaring Book Press

“Quiet Time with My Seeya” is a picture book about a young child and the time that she spends with her grandfather or her Seeya. They don’t speak the same language, but they still create a lot of special memories together. We love the interaction between grandfather and grandchild and the illustrations are beautiful.

PLAY Activity Sheet


“We Belong to the Drum” written by Sandra Lamouche and illustrated by Azby Whitecalf; published by Orca Book Publishers

“We Belong to the Drum” is a story about an indigenous child finding comfort through music. And it models singing between child and caregiver beautifully. 

SING Activity Sheet





2023 Awards


Bathe the Cat

by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by David Roberts (Chronicle Books)

This playful story follows a frantic family as they work together to get their chores finished before Grandma arrives! To do anything to avoid getting a bath, cat scrambles the list of chores on the fridge and hilarity ensues. The refrigerator magnets in the illustrations reinforce the idea that letters combine to represent the words we say.



The Gift

by Alain Serge Dzotap, illustrated by Delphine Renon (Eedermans Books for Young Readers)

A young leopard named Leo gets a pen for a gift and must figure out what it does. Reading and writing skills develop together, and with help from Leo’s caregivers and friends, he discovers the joy of creating a story.


How to Say Hello to a Worm

by Kari Percival (Rise x Penguin Workshop)

A group of curious children ask questions as they learn to plant and harvest a garden, with lots of play along the way! How to Say Hello to a Worm models the back-and-forth conversations that build vocabularies and comprehension


Still This Love Goes On

by Buffy Sainte-Marie, illustrated by Julie Flett (Greystone Kids)

Open your heart to singing throughout your life with this original song by Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Cree singer-songwriter. The beautiful illustrations and rhyming text celebrate the connection between people and the land. Singing is an important part of the oral language foundation upon which print literacies are built.


Baby’s Here!

by Jessica Young, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout (Clarion Books)

This sweet story walks the reader through different activities to do with baby and gives the reader the opportunity to do them with the book itself. Children learn about the world—including words and their meanings—through play, and
from waving hello to kissing goodnight, every page of this story is gentle and interactive.

2022 Awards


I’ll Build You a Bookcase

by Jean Ciborowski Fahey, illustrated by Simone Shin (Lee & Low Books)

Reading is a fun way to interact with your child no matter how old they are! This book encourages parents and caregivers to make a special time and place for reading. Includes bilingual text in Arabic, Spanish, Vietnamese and more.


Line and Scribble

by Debora Vogrig, illustrated by Pia Valentinis, translated by Debbie Bibo (Chronicle Books)

Line and Scribble are very different, but they’re still the best of friends. On their own, each are creative, but together they can make incredible works of art. Look through the eyes of both as they dash and squiggle through the book.


It Was Supposed to Be Sunny

by Samantha Cotterill (Dial Books)

When things go wrong on her special day, Laila talks through her feelings with her mom. Together they create an alternative party plan that is still fun. There are helpful parenting tips to reduce anxiety and disappointment included.


Bear Wants to Sing

by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling (Tundra Books)

After discovering, and licking, a musical instrument in the woods, Bear is excited to sing his song. Unfortunately, Crow, Snake and Tortoise come along and want to do the same thing. Readers will find joy in singing out each animal’s lyrics while also feeling empathy for the bear who feels ignored. Whimsical illustrations accompany text that encourages your child to find their own song.



by Helena Yoon (Candlewick)

A slightly opened ‘off-limits’ room invites a curious young child in to explore its contents: office supplies. The playful and creative play that comes next acts as an inspiration for us all to seek out more fun in the everyday. Independent play supports language development, and the unstructured materials boost imaginative expression.

2021 Awards

Help Wanted Must Love Books

By Janet Sumner Johnson, lllustrated by Courtney Dawson (Capstone Editions)

​Shailey loves bedtime stories. When her dad gets too busy with work to read to her every night, she fires him and attempts to hire a new reader. She interviews familiar fairy tale characters until she finds just the right person for the job.  Reading with adults who give their undivided attention can build a lifelong love of books.

Early literacy activity sheet

The Paper Kingdom

By Helena Ku Rhee, Illustrated by Pascal Campion
(Random House Books for Young Readers) 

A beautifully illustrated, own voices story about a young boy who accompanies his parents to their night job as office janitors. To keep the boy entertained, his parents tell him stories of an imaginary Paper Kingdom full of wonder and adventure. By telling our children stories, real or imaginary, we are building their language skills and vocabulary.

Early literacy activity sheet

Watch a book talk

It’s Okay

By Shiow-Miin Tsai
(Reycraft Books)

Drawing is fun, but not when you make a mistake. Or is it? Join a child and his mother as they learn how to turn imperfections into art. Scribbles are the first step to a lifetime of drawing and writing!

Early literacy activity sheet

Here We Go Digging for Dinosaur Bones

By Susan Lendroth, Illustrated by Bob Kolar

Dinosaur-obsessed little ones will love going through a paleontologist’s motions of digging, sifting and cleaning bones. Set to the familiar tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush,” this engaging book will have everyone singing all the way to the dinosaur factoids at the end!  Singing helps children develop vocabulary and increases awareness of the smaller sounds in words.    

Early literacy activity sheet

Play Winner:
My Rainy Day Rocket Ship

By Markette Sheppard, Illustrated by Charly Palmer
(Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

It’s too rainy outside, so it’s time for play inside! A young boy uses his creativity, imagination and help from his parents to make a super rocket ship out of everyday objects.  Play encourages children to build their imaginations, learn empathy and navigate the ups and downs of friendship.

Early literacy activity sheet

2020 Awards

READ: The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli

The Book Hog thinks he loves everything about books—the way they feel, the way they look—but when he discovers library storytime, he learns
there’s something else to love about them: the stories inside.

WRITE: The Thank You Letter by Jane Cabrera

It’s Grace’s birthday and she is having a party! The next day she enthusiastically gets out
her pens and pencils to write thank you letters to all of her guests.

TALK: Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer

While out on a walk, Daniel asks each of his neighbors to describe a good day, and hears a different answer from everyone.

SING: Red House, Tree House, Itty Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin, illustrated by Blanca Gómez

Little Mouse sets off on an adventure around the world, inviting readers to find colorful
objects: houses, underwater creatures, vehicles, and more.

PLAY: Who Has Wiggle-Waggle Toes? by Vicky Shiefman, illustrated by Francesca Chessa

This book is an active romp showcasing the different parts of the body, including peekaboo
hands and out-there elbows.

2019 Awards

Download the list of 2019 awards (pdf)

READ: Llama Llama Loves to Read by Anna Dewdney and Reed Duncan, illustrated by JT Morrow

While at school, Llama Llama begins to learn how letters make words, how words become sentences and finally how sentences become books. After a day of reading, writing, singing and even a trip to the library, Llama Llama shares his new reading skills with Mama as they walk home. Just like Llama Llama, children must master many individual skills to become good readers.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

WRITE: Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings

Arfy is a dog who lives in a box in an alley. As he explores his neighborhood looking for a new home, Arfy write letters to everyone he meets describing the ways he’d be a great pet. This story models many different styles of writing and how writing is used to communicate with others.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

TALK: Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

When Grandma Mimi comes to visit her granddaughter, she always brings her magical purse! As they explore her purse together, the little girl learns about her grandma and what is important to her. Talking together with the adults in their lives helps children build vocabulary and think creatively as they start to understand the world around them.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

SING: Kat Writes a Song by Greg Foley

Kat is feeling sad, so she decides to write a song to make herself feel better. When she sings it, the sun comes out and she wonders if her “Amazing Song to Make Things Better” will work for everyone. Singing is a great way to introduce children to sound recognition and listening skills.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

PLAY: Crash! Boom! A Math Tale by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Chris Chatterton

A little elephant uses blocks to make a tower as tall as he is. When his first attempt goes Crash! Boom! he starts to experiment with different strategies to achieve success. This book models a variety of ways that adults and children can play with blocks, building language skills as they create plans, make choices, and talk about cause and effect.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

2018 Awards

Download the list of 2018 awards (pdf)

READ: The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark; illustrated by Chuck Goenink

A rainy day entices a girl to the library.  Sitting in her favorite chair, she is soon surrounded by literary friends including Winnie the Pooh, Madeline, Pinnocchio, and more. After a fun visit to the library, she checks out her favorite book to take home and read.  This book models a child’s love of reading and how it can be enhanced by a trip to the library.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

WRITE: Little Plane Learns to Write by Stephen Savage

Little Plane loves flight school where he and the other planes are learning to write in the sky. His arcs and dives are excellent, but he can’t seem to get the hang of loopity-loops. Finally, tracing the round shape of the moon inspires Little Plane to write the perfect loopity-loops. Drawing circles, arcs, and lines helps children learn to form letters, just like Little Plane.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

TALK: Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet

Say Zoop! encourages children and caregivers to interact with the pages of the book by inviting them to place their fingers on different colored dots and make the sounds that the book describes for each dot. Making noises helps children practice the different sounds in words which will help them in acquiring language.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

SING: Motor Goose by Rebecca Colby, illustrated by Jef Kaminsky

Motor Goose is a compilation of classic nursery rhymes that have been rewritten with a transportation theme. Each page is a song centered on a different vehicle and set to familiar tunes such as Mary Had a Little Lamb or Itsy-Bitsy Spider. This book supports singing with children, whether it be classic nursery rhymes or modern children’s classics.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

PLAY: Things to Do with Dad by Sam Zuppardi

A boy and his dad start the day making pancakes together, but dad’s looming to-do list puts a damper on their shared fun. The boy alters the list, inventing imaginative ways he and his dad can complete the chores together. This book models a variety of ways that adults and kids can playfully interact during their daily routine.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

2017 Awards

Download the list of 2017 awards (pdf)

READ: The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley; illustrated by Kate Berube

Nick loves spending time with his cats, except when he wants to read. His cats lay on the pages of the books and make nuisances of themselves. Nick decides to teach his cats to read, so they can all enjoy books together. Just like Nick’s cats, some children will be enthusiastic learners and others will struggle. Nick finds a wonderful variety of activities to support both cats on their learning journey. Acting out stories and drawing illustrations are an excellent way to engage young children in storytelling before they learn to read.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

WRITE: Alphonse, That is Not Ok to Do! by Daisy Hirst

Natalie loves to create art with her little brother, Alphonse. When she catches him eating her book, however, Natalie is mad and channels her anger into her art, drawing beasts and a tornado chasing Alphonse! Drawing and scribbling allows children to tell stories and express their feelings before they learn how to write words and sentences.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

TALK: Puddle by Hyewon Yum

Stuck inside on a rainy day, a mother coaxes her son to enjoy the day inside by drawing a picture of the rainy day together. After drawing and talking, they decide to go outside and splash in the puddles. The entire story is told through the conversation between mother and son and models how to engage children in rich conversation. By listening and adding details you build relationships and develop strong language skills.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

SING: Rock-A-Bye Romp by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani

This bedtime lullaby starts with the familiar lines of “Rock-a-Bye, Baby, in the treetop” only to veer off in an adventure, taking baby into a bird’s nest, through a farmyard, over a waterfall and onto the back of a flying hawk. All the lines of this bedtime romp can be sung to the tune of Rock-a-Bye Baby. Changing the words to a familiar song is a fun way introduce a child to new vocabulary and to make children laugh.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

PLAY: Box by Min Flyte

A box can contain a fun new toy, but even more fun is what you can do with the box after you open it! With lift the flaps and fold out pages this book is just as much fun to play with as it is to read. The dramatic play and imagination that an ordinary box inspires develops language, vocabulary, and narrative skills as children act out their own stories.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

2016 Awards

Download the list of 2016 awards (pdf)

READ: Sloth Slept On, by Frann Preston-Gannon

A group of children discover an animal sleeping in a tree. They set out to discover what the animal is and where it comes from by reading books, comparing it to other animals, looking at a globe, and telling their own stories about the creature. The various examples of print and reading in Sloth Slept On show the importance of reading not only books, but also signs, newspapers, and globes to discover new and important information.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

WRITE: Inside This Book: (are three books), by Barney Saltzberg

Three siblings create their own books from blank pages their mother stapled together. When the books are complete, they put them all together. Reading skills develop together with writing skills, and this story encourages children at all levels to explore reading, writing, drawing, rhyming, and storytelling.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

TALK: I Don’t Want to Be a Frog! by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt

A curious frog tells his father that he doesn’t want to be a frog but would rather be the animals he observes and learns about in books. Talking with children helps them learn about the world, understand their experiences, and build comprehension skills. Responding to children’s questions in a patient and loving way creates opportunities for bonding and wires children’s brains for learning.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

SING: Hiccupotamus, by Steve Smallman, illustrated by Ada Grey

A small bird quickly learns that the jungle is a musical place. Hiccupotamus shows what wonderful songs can be created from everyday sounds with a little cooperation and imagination. Making music and singing songs together helps small children hear the different sounds that make up words and stimulates mathematical processes in their brains.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

PLAY: Tickle Monster, by Édouard Manceau

Page by page, children are invited to transform a monster by tickling it and turning each scary piece into everyday objects instead. Tickle Monster offers an irresistible opportunity for a positive reading experience by allowing children to engage directly with the actions of a story.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

2015 Awards

Download the list of 2015 awards (pdf)

READ: Books Always Everywhere, by Jane Blatt, illustrated by Sarah Massini

Follow along with a diverse cast of babies and toddlers as they fill their days with playing, sharing, and reading. Books Always Everywhere encourages families to see that books and reading can be a joyful part of their daily activities.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

WRITE: The Crayon: A Colorful Tale about Friendship

Two quirky characters take turns scribbling with crayons, mixing and naming colors as they go. For young children, the scribbles in the illustrations and the conversations in the text model age-appropriate written and oral language skills.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

TALK: Froodle, by Antoinette Portis

A bird leaves the usual chirps behind in a quest to find just the right new thing to say. Full of unexpected but fun made-up words, Froodle is a celebration of language and self-expression.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

SING: I Got the Rhythm, by Connie Schofield-Morrison; illustrated by Frank Morrison

From storefront to sidewalk to park, an exuberant girl rejoices in the sounds and music she hears during a busy city day. Her actions show children how to listen closely to the world around them. The story’s rhythmic language and rhyming words help build phonological awareness skills.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

PLAY: Tea with Grandpa, by Barney Saltzberg

A young girl and her grandfather spend a delightful time together singing, having a tea party, and chatting. Tea with Grandpa stands as a wonderful model of child-directed, open-ended play and presents a positive example of how technology can help children maintain critical family relationships.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

2014 Awards

Download the list of 2014 awards (pdf)

READ: Open This LIttle Book, by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee

Readers open the cover to discover five characters, each with their own little book, all within the pages of the first. Open This Little Book celebrates the pleasures of reading, sharing stories, and having a book of your own.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

WRITE: The Things I Can Do, by Jeff Mack

Hand-written text and exuberant collages illustrate this story of a boy who takes great pride in his accomplishments. Reading skills and writing skills develop together, and the format of The Things I Can Do invites children to see themselves as authors as well as readers.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

TALK: Moo! by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

A very vocal cow commandeers the farmer’s car and sets off on an adventure. The entire story is told with just two words: Moo! and Baa! The speech bubbles and the very limited vocabulary help children make the critical connection between the words we say and the print on the page.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

SING: Nighty-Night, Cooper, by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

A small kangaroo requests song after song to help him fall asleep, and his mother obliges by making up her own words to familiar tunes. Singing songs together is a powerful way to build phonological awareness skills and vocabulary, and Nighty-Night, Cooper models how a parent can use songs to create a comforting bedtime routine with a child.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet

PLAY: Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

Niño takes on all the toys in his room with an amazing series of lucha libre wrestling moves. When his sisters wake up from their nap, they challenge him to a match, too! Who will be victorious? Niño Wrestles the World joyfully demonstrates the language-rich, open-ended play that contributes to a child’s narrative skills.

Early Literacy Activity Sheet