Authors and illustrators of state-award-winning books, I’d like to hear from you.

At the Texas Library Association conference in San Antonio this April, I’ll be part of a panel entitled “Going for the Gold: Using Award-Winning Books to Make Readers Winners.”

The ringleader for this panel discussion is Jane H. Claes of the University of Houston – Clear Lake. Fellow panelists Janet Hilbun (University of North Texas) and Roger Leslie (North Shore Senior High School) and I will “explore book awards chosen by children and young adult readers, tell why they are important, and show how they can help build popular collections.”

I’m included because I’ve been fortunate enough to have The Day-Glo Brothers and Shark Vs. Train both recognized by the young readers in many states.

I saw for myself in schools in Norman, Oklahoma, last month the effect of having a book included on the master list for the state’s Sequoyah Book Award. It’s easy for authors to mistakenly think that the window for connecting a book with its audience is very short, but even though The Day-Glo Brothers was published nearly five years ago — when some of the kids I spoke to in Norman weren’t even toddling — I’ve never seen groups of students more interested in the book.

I credit their teachers and librarians for making that preparation a priority, but I believe such preparation wouldn’t have happened at all without the Sequoyah. From my own perspective, I can see how students’ giving more consideration to the books on a list can make for a richer reading and learning experience, regardless of whether the author ever shows up in person. And that makes for a more enjoyable experience for me as an author, as well as more sales of my books.

But I’m just one author, and that’s just one anecdote. Other authors who have been on state lists, what difference has your books’ inclusion made for you and for the readers you’ve encountered during visits to those states? I’d love to add your perspective to my part of the conversation in San Antonio this April so that we send librarians home more enthusiastic than ever about the Bluebonnet and Lone Star and other state award lists.