It’s Time to Cast Your Ballots!

Written by Scot Smith

How do you create excitement for reading in your school? You give them an amazing list of books and challenge them to read at least three of them! If your students have not voted for their favorite Volunteer State Book Award Nominee, now is the time to get their vote in. We know it is hard…but only one book can be the winner!

The Volunteer State Book Award is sponsored annually by the Tennessee Library Association and the Tennessee Association of School Librarians. Each year, children across Tennessee are asked to read books from a list of nominated titles.  The Volunteer State Book Award has four divisions–Primary (K-2nd Grade), Intermediate (Grades 3rd-5th), Middle School (Grades 6-8), and high school (grades 9-12).  In the spring, those students who have read or listened to at least three of the titles from the list are eligible to vote for their favorite titles. These votes are tabulated and sent to the state organization. The book with the most votes statewide wins the award. The author of the book receives a plaque and is invited to Tennessee to receive the award.

Last year was a record-breaking year; over 36,000 students across the state of Tennessee cast votes and made their voice known in the Volunteer State Book Award. Most of those votes came from the Primary and Intermediate divisions. This year, we would really love to increase the number of students who vote for their favorite VSBA title, especially in Middle and High School divisions. We are encouraging schools and public libraries who have not participated in the past to join the fun this spring. Every vote counts, even if you only have a handful of students who can vote!

2017-2018 VSBA Winners

Primary Division: Grades K-2. Stick and Stone, written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.
Intermediate Division: Grades 3-5. Serafina and the Black Cloak, written by Robert Beatty. Disney Hyperion, 2015.
Middle School Division: Grades 6-8. The War that Saved My Life, written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Dial, 2015.
High School Division: Grades 9-12. The Red Queen, written by Victoria Aveyard. HarperTeen, 2015.

The ballots for the 2018-2019 Volunteer State Award are now available on the TASL website at The deadline to submit those ballots is Friday, May 10. All ballots must be submitted electronically; there will no paper ballots. We will announce the winners from each of the four divisions during the middle of May. Remember that in order to be eligible, a student must have read or listened to at least three of the titles from the list they are voting from. Powerpoints for each VSBA category are available on the TASL website to review the nominated titles with your students.

If you have questions about how to submit your ballots or about the voting process, please contact Scot Smith or Pat Bashir. Our contact information is on the VSBA page at

Scot Smith is the Librarian Media Specialist at Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge, TN. He is also an instructor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee--Knoxville. Scot co-chairs the Volunteer State Book Award committee.

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