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Massachusetts Children's Book Award

Massachusetts Children's Book Award

Sponsored by Salem State University

Master List 2021 Award

Burg, A. (2016). Unbound. 

Cline-Ransome, L. (2018). Finding Langston.

Connor, L. (2018). The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle.

Curtis, C. (2018). The Journey of Little Charlie.

Elliot, Z. (2018). Dragons in a Bag.

Gino, A. (2018). You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!

Hashimi, N. (2018). The Sky at Our Feet.

Helget, N. (2017). The End of the Wild. 

Hiranandani, V. (2018). The Night Diary.

Hernandez, C. (2019). Sal and Gabi Break the Universe.

Hood, S. (2018). Lifeboat 12.

Kadohata, C. (2018). Checked.

Kelly, L. (2019). Song for a Whale.

Lai, R. (2019). Pie in the Sky.

Murdock, C. (2018). The Book of Boy.

Sheinkin, S. (2019). Abigail Adams, Pirate of the Caribbean.

Stokes, J. (2018). The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers.

Tarshis, L. (2019). I Survived the Great Molasses Flood, 1919.

Telgemeier, R. (2019). Guts.

Walsh, J. (2019). She Dared: Bethany Hamilton.

Wang, J. (2019). Stargazing.

Woods, B. (2019). The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA.

Woods, M. (2017). The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker.

Yang, K. (2018). Front Desk.


MCBA 2021 Booklist by Grade Level
Grade Title Author F & P Lexile
Early Grade 4

Dragons in a Bag

Elliot, Zetta



Early Grade 4

Abigail Adams, Pirate of the Caribbean

Sheinkin, Steve



Early Grade 4 I Survived the Great Molasses Flood, 1919 Tarshis, Lauren Q 610
Early Grade 4 Guts Telgemeier, Raina M 480
Early Grade 4 Stargazing Wang, Jen N 590
Grade 4 Finding Langston Cline-Ransome, Lesa R 760
Grade 4 Lifeboat 12 Hood, Susan O 610
Grade 4 Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret Trueit, Trudi T 660
Grade 4 She Dared: Bethany Hamilton Walsh, Jenni T 810
Grade 4 Front Desk Yang, Kelly O 640
Grade 5 Unbound Burg, Ann Y 700
Grade 5 The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle Connor, Leslie K 310
Grade 5 Pie in the Sky Lai, Remy Q 720
Grade 5 The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA Woods, Brenda S 780
Grade 5 The Boy, The Bird, and the Coffin Maker Woods, Matilda R 740
Grade 6 The Sky at Our Feet Hashimi, Nadia Q 710
Grade 6 The End of the Wild Helget, Nicole O 610
Grade 6 Sal and Gabi Break the Universe Hernandez, Carlos n/a 700
Grade 6 Song for a Whale Kelly, Lynne T 800
Grade 6 The Book of Boy Murdock, Catherine Gilbert n/a 600
Grade 6+ The Journey of Little Charlie Curtis, Christopher Paul W 960
Grade 6+ You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P Gino, Alex Z 810
Grade 6+ The Night Diary Hiranandani, Veera Q 700
Grade 6+ Checked Kadohata, Cynthia W 760
Grade 6+ The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution Stokes, Jonathan Y 990


Requirements for Participation in the 41st Annual Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Program

Sponsored by Salem State University

  1. The school principal should support the children, teachers, and librarians in their participation in the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Program. Participating teachers and librarians should devote a reasonable amount of time to activities that will promote the award program.
  2. The school or its library should have available for circulation as many of the titles on the nominated list as possible.
  3. Children in grades 4, 5, and 6 are eligible to vote if they have read, or have heard read aloud, at least five of the books from the 2019 Master List.
  4. Participating teachers will encourage every eligible child to vote for his or her favorite book and will tally the class votes and submit them to the coordinator, who may be the librarian, the reading specialist, or another person delegated to assume this responsibility. Note: Only final votes for a favorite, one per child, are sent to Salem State University (no rankings).
  5. The coordinator will submit the Official On-line Ballot to Salem State University via the link on the website: (If only one classroom teacher in a school participates, the teacher will register and submit his or her own tally to SSU.) Note: If the coordinator is working with multiple schools or libraries, s/he should submit an Official Ballot for each location; this will ensure that a certificate is sent for each participating school or library.
  6. The link to the Official Ballot and the printable School Ballot will be posted on the website by February 1, 2019. Google Docs will close the Official Ballot link at 11:59 pm on Friday, March 15, 2019. If you are unable to access the ballots, please email
  7. The 2019 MCBA winners will be announced on the website on Monday, April 1, 2019.
  8. Each participating school will receive a certificate of participation with the name of the winning book selected by the children as the winner of the 2019 Massachusetts Children’s Book Award.
  9. Public librarians may facilitate the MCBA program for home-schooled children and for children whose schools do not participate in MCBA. Branch libraries within one city or town should appoint one person to be program coordinator, receive the information from SSU, and to share the information with librarians at other branches who wish to participate.

For further information about the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award, please contact Cami Condie, PhD, at Salem State University at 978.542.2185 or email

Massachusetts Children’s Book Award

Sponsored by Salem State University

Master List 2018

  • Abbott, T. (2014). The Forbidden Stone. (Katherine Tegen Books)
  • Angelberger, T. (2016). Inspector Flytrap. (Amulet Books)
  • Baptiste, T. (2015). The Jumbies. (Algonquin Young Readers)
  • Bradley, K. B. (2015). The War that Saved My Life. (Puffin Books)
  • Camper, C. (2014). Lowriders in Space. (Chronicle Books)
  • Draper, S. (2015). Stella by Starlight. (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
  • Gibbs, S. (2014). Space Case: A Moon Base Alpha Novel. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • Hilton, M. (2015). Full Cicada Moon. (Puffin Books)
  • Hunt, L. M. (2015). Fish in a Tree. (Puffin Books)
  • Jamieson, V. (2015). Roller Girl. (Dial Books)
  • Jennings, K. (2014). Maps & Geography. (Little Simon)
  • Levy, D. A. (2014). Misadventures of the Family Fletcher. (Yearling Books)
  • MacLachan, P. (2013). The Truth of Me: About a Boy, His Grandmother, and a Very Good Dog. (Harper Collins)
  • Milford, K. (2014). Greenglass House. (HMH Books for Young Readers)
  • Nye, N. S. (2014). The Turtle of Oman. (Greenwillow Books)
  • Oppel, K. (2015). Nest. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • Pearsall, S. (2015). The Seventh Most Important Thing. (Yearling Books)
  • Perkins, L. R. (2014). Nuts to You. (Harper Collins)
  • Sands, K. (2015). The Blackthorn Key. (Aladdin)
  • Shurtliff, L. (2015). Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk. (Yearling Books)
  • Spinelli, E. (2014). Another Day as Emily. (Random House Children's Books)
  • Stroud, J. (2013). Screaming Staircase. (Disney-Hyperion)
  • Wicks, M. (2016). Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean. (First Second Books)
  • Woods, B. (2014). The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond. (Puffin Books)
  • Woodson, J. (2014). Brown Girl Dreaming. (Puffin Books)

Massachusetts Children's Book Award 2017

Master List for 2017-2017

Avi. (2012). Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution. (Beach Lane Books)

Bell, C. (2014). El Deafo. (Harry N. Abrams)

Barnhill, K. (2014). The Witch’s Boy. (Algonquin Young Readers)

Blakemore, M. F. (2013). The Water Castle. (Walker)

Bowen, F. (2015). Out of Bounds. (Peachtree)

Butler, D. H. (2012). The Buddy Files: The Case of the School Ghost. (Albert Whitman & Company)

Chambliss Bertman, J. (2015). Book Scavenger. (Holt)

Ellis, D. (2011). No Ordinary Day. (Groundwood Books)

Farber, E.S. (2013). Fish Finelli Book 1: Seagulls Don’t Eat Pickles. (Chronicle)

Gibbs, S. (2014). Poached. (Simon & Schuster)

Graff, L. (2014). Absolutely Almost. (Philomel)

Herrick, A. (2013). The Time Fetch. (Algonquin Young Readers)

Holm, J. L. (2014). The Fourteenth Goldfish. (Random House)

Holub, J. (2012). Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Heroes in Training). (Aladdin).

Jones, K. (2015). Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. (Knopf)

Kurtz. C. (2013). The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage. (Harcourt)

Lendle, I. (2015). The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet. (First Second)

Lerangis, P. (2013). Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises. (Harper Collins)

Littlewood, K. (2012). Bliss. (Katherine Tegen Books)

Lloyd, N. (2014). A Snicker of Magic. (Scholastic)

Martin, L, & Martin, V. (2013). Anton and Cecil, Book 1: Cats at Sea. (Algonquin Young Readers)

Schanen, A. B. (2014). Quinny and Hopper. (Disney-Hyperion)

Tarshis, L. (2015). I Survived: The Great Chicago Fire, 1871. (Scholastic)

Watson, J. (2014). Loot: How to Steal a Fortune. (Scholastic)

Wright, T. (2013). Mystery on Pine Lake: Cooper and Packrat. (Islandport Press)

Grade Level Guide For Teachers and Librarians

Grade Level Title

Suggested Grade Level

(SLJ and Lexile)

Low Fourth El Deafo 2-6
  The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet (330L)
  The Buddy Files: The Case of the School Ghost 1-3 (490L)
  Fish Finelli Book 1: Seagulls Don't Eat Pickles 3-5 (680L)
  Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Heroes in Training) 2-4 (570L)
Fourth The Witch's Boy 4-6 (630L)
  Out of Bounds (630L)
  Quinny and Hopper 3-5 (660L)
  Loot: How to Steam a Fortune 4-7 (560L)
  The Adventures of a South Pole Pig K-4 (660L)
Fifth The Water Castle 4-7 (690L)
  No Ordinary Day 3-7 (580L)
  A Snicker of Magic 4-7 (680L)
  I Survived: The Great Chicago File, 1871 (730L)
  Mystery on Pine Lake: Cooper and Packrat (700L)
Sixth Absolutely Almost 4-6 (750L)
  The Fourteenth Goldfish 5-7 (550L)
  Bliss 3-7 (870L)
  Anton and Cecil, Book 1: Cats at Sea 4-6 (950L)
  Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer 4-6 (880L)
Advanced Sixth Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution 5-8 (730L)
  Book Scavenger (810L)
  Poached (750L)
  The Time Fetch 5-8 (700L)
  Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises 5-9 (580L)


Congratulations to Jennifer A. Nielsen, winner of the 2019 Massachusetts Children's Book Award.



History of the Massachusetts Children's Book Award

Letter text from Jennifer A. Nielsen, Author

Additional Community Programs

For the three years, Salem State University partnered with Salem Public Schools to provide intensive literacy interventions for at-risk elementary students with priority to English Language Learners and children from low-SES backgrounds. Staff from the Salem Public Schools identified students entering grades 1-5 to participate in the program housed at the Bentley School. The summer program lasted four weeks during the month of July.

The Bentley Summer Program had three underlying goals:

  1. Every child will read something well every day.
  2. Our curriculum is the child’s needs.
  3. Every interaction leads to more independence.

To accomplish these goals, a science-based theme provided a content focus and guided reading within small groups enabled targeted literacy interventions. Teachers selected a topic related to the ocean (the science of shipbuilding, the ocean as a source of life, understanding the behavior of marine animals, etc.); designed and planned experiments, field trips, and videos to support learning the content; and supported students’ learning with extensive reading and writing of informational texts.

The core of the Bentley Summer Program was guided reading. Children were grouped by need and taught individually or in groups of up to four students. This instruction was targeted toward students’ phonics, comprehension, fluency, and writing needs. Guided reading instruction took place for at least an hour every day and was a major factor in the tremendous gains students experienced in reading.

After one month of the Bentley Summer Program, reading assessment results indicated that students averaged 3.7 months of growth. Twenty-one students (52.5%) increased their reading achievement by one and half to three months. Six students (15%) increased between four to six months. Seven students (17.5%) had more than seven and a half months of growth after only four weeks of intervention. Seven children (14%), who were previously reading below grade level, have now progressed to reading on or above grade level as a result of the interventions they received in the Bentley Summer Program.

In the summer of 2014, Salem at SEA (Summer ELL Academy) engaged 40 high school English language learners in a month-long program designed to improve their English language and literacy skills in the context of rich content learning. Funded by a Gateway Cities grant from the commonwealth’s Executive Office of Education, the program provided advancing ninth to twelfth graders with an interdisciplinary, literacy-based summer enrichment experience focused on the theme of globalization in Salem. Participating students received stipends from the City of Salem for their work on an exhibit entitled Global Salem: Past, Present and Future for the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center in Salem.

Faculty from Salem State University and the Salem Public Schools worked with community partners to design the Salem at SEA curriculum. To support individualized and small group instruction, four classes with 10 students per class were team-taught by history and ESL teachers. One of the key elements of the program was the strong collaboration among several major agencies and organizations in the greater Salem region. With a home base on the Salem State University campus, students were provided with a higher education experience at a critical decision-making age. The City of Salem supported the exhibit and student employment option; Salem Cyberspace (now LEAP for Education) offered college and career counseling, guidance and family outreach; the Essex National Heritage Commission made connections to the community and historical venues and organized field trips; and the North Shore Workforce Investment Board provided support for employment and career exploration.

Early College in Salem, funded through a grant from the Executive Office of Education, is a collaborative program offered through Salem State University and Salem High School. In the course of two years, as many as 50 motivated high school students will have the opportunity to take college-level courses, initially in the high school setting and later on at the university campus. The program uses a co-teaching approach, with courses co-taught by high school teachers and university faculty members. In addition, a learning community model offers students transitional support to campus-based courses and experiences and aims to develop and diversify the workforce in the fields of education, business, science/math, social work, and criminal justice. Students have the opportunity to take courses that satisfy requirements for general education at Salem State University and the Massachusetts Transfer Block, earning up to 21 credit hours, which is more than a semester’s worth of college course work.

Early College in Salem is designed to engage Salem’s long-time community partners, including LEAP for Education and the North Shore Workforce Investment Board, both of whom will ensure that students have opportunities to develop college and career readiness skills and to serve as interns at businesses and organizations within the community. Early College in Salem provides an opportunity for students to gain advanced standing in a college degree program while still in high school. It reduces the expense of degree completion while specifically addressing retention issues such as college and career readiness and alignment of education with personal and professional goals.

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