Frequently Asked Questions

The TBA Committee selects Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List titles after receiving suggestions from librarians, teachers, parents, students and others. The Master List books, all recommended by one or more reviewing source, should be evaluated in terms of each library’s selection policy. It is not mandatory that a school or public library purchase all titles listed.

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Please see this Google Document for the most updated version of Frequently Asked Questions.


FAQ (last updated 8/27/2015)

What is the purpose of the Texas Bluebonnet Award program?

The Texas Bluebonnet Award (TBA) reading program was established in 1979 to encourage Texas children to read more books, explore a variety of current books, develop powers of discrimination, and identify their favorite books. The award process provides librarians, teachers, parents, and writers with insight into young students' reading preferences. It further affords an opportunity to honor and encourage imaginative authors who create books with high appeal to children.

The Texas Library Association sponsors the Texas Bluebonnet Award reading list solely to encourage free voluntary reading.

How does the TBA program work?

All school libraries, public libraries and home-school groups in Texas are encouraged to participate in Texas Bluebonnet Award. The program is promoted to students in 3rd through 6th grades or those doing work equivalent to those grade levels.

Children can vote only from registered sites. Registration can be done at TLA Annual Conference or through the TBA website. Participating youngsters must read a minimum of five books from the current TBA Master List before they may vote for their favorite title in January. Teachers, parents, and librarians are encouraged to read some of the books aloud.

Home school students who are not registered through a home-school group or cooperative should go to their local public library or public school to vote. If the public library is not a registered member, then the home school should contact TLA or the TBA Coordinator for further help.  

Registered sites send their voting tallies to the TLA office by January 31 of each calendar year. The author of the book receiving the most votes statewide is declared the winner of the Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Further information about the Bluebonnet Program is located in the Texas Bluebonnet Policies and Procedural Manual.

How do I register for the TBA program?

School libraries, public libraries and home school groups  must register each year. The annual registration fee is $15.00. This fee covers administrative costs associated with the Texas Bluebonnet Award.

The registration period begins on February 1 and continues through January 31 of the following calendar year. Registration can be done at the TLA store at Annual Conference or on the registration form available on this site. Registering prior to August is recommended, but registration may continue through January.

Libraries or home school groups may not participate in the Texas Bluebonnet Award Program, nor claim to participate in the program, unless they are registered by executing the Registration and License Agreement (located at the bottom of the registration page).  Doing so may violate state and federal trademark, copyright and unfair competition laws. Librarians must enter into the Registration and License Agreement with TLA in order to be authorized to use Texas Bluebonnet Award materials, trademarks, logos, name, or other identifying characteristics. In addition, librarians who have not registered may not: (1) allow children to vote for the TBA Award; (2) lead youngsters to believe that they or the library is participating in the TBA program; or (3) use the TBA materials in any way.

School and public librarians can check the status of their site’s registration online.

How is the TBA master list selected?

The Texas Bluebonnet Award Selection Committee is responsible for selection of the books on each year's master list. Librarians, teachers, parents, students and other interested persons are invited to submit recommendations for each year’s list. The suggestion form is located on the TBA website.

In selecting titles, the committee considers children’s interests, relevant content, reputable reviews, and literary quality. Both fiction and nonfiction books are represented. The author must be a living U.S. citizen or an author who resides in the United States. Books considered for the master list must have been published in the United States. Only titles published within the three years prior to the master list release date are considered. Textbooks and new editions of existing titles are ineligible. A new master list of twenty books is released each year in November.

Since the books are so carefully selected, shouldn’t children read all of them?

No, the books on The TBA Master List are not intended to be read by all children. There are vast differences among the reading tastes of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, between boys and girls, and among different children at different points in the year. The program is intended to promote pleasure reading, therefore youngsters are encouraged to select the books they want to read and not be rewarded for reading the entire master list. Remember, they should, “Read 5, then decide.”

From the Texas Bluebonnet Award Policy and Procedure Manual: “The Bluebonnet Master List contains twenty titles each year.  While librarians may choose not to order all titles, they cannot substitute or add titles to a list of books called the Bluebonnet Master List.” Titles may not be deleted or removed from the Master List or any promotional TBA materials.

Do I have to buy all the books on the TBA master list?

From the TBA Policy and Procedure Manual: “The TBA Master List is a copyrighted list; substitutions and additions cannot be made to it, however, participants may choose not to order all titles.“ To help librarians in their selection process, full text reviews of each book are available on the TBA website. These reviews are provided as hot links from each TBA Master List title.

Are there any materials available to help promote the TBA program?

Supplies can be ordered online or through the mail with a form that can be downloaded from the TBA website. Payment must accompany orders – no purchase orders are accepted.

The TBA Program Committee creates ancillary information for librarians and teachers posted on the TBA (current year) List: Activities and Resources website. These activities and resources created and/or curated by the Program Committee include: links to recommended websites regarding author/illustrator interviews or title-related sites; Book Talk Teasers; Read Alikes; Book Reviews; and Readers Theatres (perfect for meeting the drama TEKS).

Another source promotional activity available on the TBA website is Book Talk. This interactive website can be accessed through the TBA homepage. It allows children to read more about the authors and give a review of each title they read.

Are there any other ways for children to be involved in the TBA program besides reading and voting?

There are many ways youngsters can be involved in the program. They may create book-talks for the morning announcements in a school program or community television through the public library; create book trailers; create/perform readers theater for both public library and school programs; make displays for both school and public libraries; volunteer to read some titles to younger children; decorate classroom doors with a scene from their favorite titles; or conduct debates supporting their favorite books. A wealth of such activities tied to the voting are posted on the TBA website.

Children can also help promote the TBA program as student presenter for the TBA ceremony at the TLA conference. A link to the student participation form can be found on the home page between July and December. An applicant from each of the ten TLA districts is selected every year. These students participate in the TBA luncheon award ceremony at the TLA Annual Conference. Scholarship stipends are available to help with transportation costs. All monies are reimbursed after the annual conference.

The children I work with like books about Junie B. Jones, Hank the Cowdog, the Captain Underpants series and Harry Potter. Why aren’t the new books in these series on the Bluebonnet list?

In following the mission of the Texas Bluebonnet Award (TBA) reading program, books on the Master List are chosen “to encourage Texas children to read more books” and “explore a variety of current books.” Books, such as the ones mentioned above, already have a built-in audience, whereas many of the books considered for the TBA list may not be as well known by students, teachers or librarians. That’s not to say books by authors already well-known to children aren’t considered, especially if the title is a departure from the author’s earlier works. Books in the Harry Potter series are not eligible because of the author’s ineligibility: “The book must have been published in the U.S. and must have been written by an author who is a U.S. citizen or an author who currently resides in the United States.” The committee looks carefully at first-time authors, authors who have never appeared on the list,  and any eligible books suggested by librarians using the suggestion form.

Why aren’t there more Spanish titles available on the TBA list?

There aren’t more Spanish titles for the simple fact that there are a limited number of Spanish titles that meet the criteria set for books eligible for the TBA Master List. At present, most books published as dual language editions are geared towards a younger audience than the titles represented by TBA. Separate Spanish language editions of books for older readers are frequently released several years after publication, making the original book ineligible for consideration.

Members of the TBA committee and other interested parties seek out eligible titles but hold those works to the same criteria as other titles. To suggest titles for TBA master list consideration, please fill out a suggestion form available on the TBA website or email Mariah Aguilar at mariaha@txla.org.

How can I become part of the TBA program?

The TBA website contains job descriptions of coordinator, selection, and program committee members as well as applications for each position. Openings for committee positions are available each year as rotating district members complete their terms. Email and social media announcements of openings are sent out or posted in September with reminders following in October and November. Applications are due Nov. 1. New member announcements are made by the TLA President-Elect by Jan 1.

What do I need to know when it comes time for children to vote for the Texas Bluebonnet Award winner?

Voting is conducted at registered sites and is directed by the person coordinating the program.  Voting materials and instructions are posted on the TBA website in late November or early December.

School and public librarians and home school organizations may select a date (or several dates) in January for voting. The official vote totals must be submitted electronically to TLA by January 31. Youngsters are eligible to vote if:

  • The school, public library or home school organization is registered for the current year.

  • Youngsters are in the 3rd through 6th grades or the equivalent for home-schooled students.

  • Children have read or heard read at least five of the current master list titles.

The author of the book receiving the most votes statewide is the recipient of the Texas Bluebonnet Award. Ten children who participated in the reading and voting are selected to present the author with the Texas Bluebonnet Award at the TLA Annual Conference.

The registration period extends from February 1 through January 31 of each calendar year. Registering prior to August is recommended, but registration may continue through January.

If the program asks youngsters to vote for their favorite title, how can they choose when they’ve read or heard only five books?

Part of the choices children make is in the selection of the books they read.  And, although they don’t vote after having read all titles on the TBA Master List, their votes indicate their favorites from among the books they believe will interest them. The voting allows youngsters to participate as members of a community of readers and to use their critical reading skills in making choices about the books they want to read. They further hone those choices by voting for one out of five books. The result of their participation is an author winning the Texas Bluebonnet Award.

What is the best way to check and see if children have read the requisite five books?

The easiest way to find out how many children have read five books, and which books they have read, is to ask them.  Sometimes they may have trouble remembering each book. The librarian can use the promotional materials and website to help students remember the books they read. Pictures of the book jackets are on the ballots to help children remember the nature of each book. There is also a form linked from the current nominees list entitled “Student Reading Record” that enables students to remember what they liked or didn’t like about each book. The Bluebonnet Program does not require, nor advocate, that youngsters take tests on the books, answer formal questions, or write reports as a way of showing they have read particular titles.

When will I know which book has won the vote?

Official vote totals must be submitted electronically to TLA by January 31. The vote totals are tallied in the next few days and verified before the winner is officially declared, typically during the first full week in February. The winning author and publisher are notified first. Then the winner is announced on the TBA homepage as well as through email announcements sent to all registered sites, and a press release sent to publishers, newspapers, and numerous professional journals.

Is there somewhere I can go to find how many votes each book received?

Voting statistics are posted on the TBA website.

What happens once a book has been voted the Texas Bluebonnet Award winner?

Now it’s time to celebrate.  The annual Bluebonnet Luncheon, held at the TLA Annual Convention in April gives librarians and children an opportunity to see the winners and to hear them speak.  Information about the luncheon is included annually in the conference registration forms found on the TLA website.

Ten children, one from each TLA district, present the winning author with the Texas Bluebonnet Award at the Bluebonnet Luncheon. The student presenter form can be found on the home page.

How do I know what’s going on with the program?

When librarians register for the TBA program, they are automatically put on an electronic distribution list. The coordinator sends out announcements, product information, and other items concerning the program periodically throughout the year.

If you are registered and not receiving this information, please contact Mariah Aguilar at mariaha@txla.org

TBA also uses social media to promote materials and make announcements.

TBA website:  http://www.txla.org/tba
TBA Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TexasBluebonnetAward
TBA Twitter handle: @TBAbooks
TBA Twitter hashtag: #TXbluebonnetaward
TBA Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tbabooks

Whom do I contact if I have questions?

The current TBA coordinator email and information can be found at http://txla.org/TBA-contact  or contact Mariah Aguilar at mariaha@txla.org. The Texas Bluebonnet Award coordinator and TLA liaison welcome questions and comments and, along with the selection and program committee members, want to make sure the Texas Bluebonnet Award program is exciting and successful for all Texas librarians and students.



Created on Apr 4, 2010 | Last updated August 27, 2015