‘Grandma’s Tiny House’ Wins 2018 CELI Read Aloud Book Award

Teachers collaborate to pick winner of children's book award

Sarah Siebert reads the 2018 CELI Read Aloud Book, ‘Grandma’s Tiny House,’ to children at Willie Price Lab School at UM. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – “Grandma’s Tiny House,” a children’s book about a colossal family gathering set in a tiny old house, is the 2018 winner of the University of Mississippi’s 2018 CELI Read Aloud Book Award.

Given annually by the UM Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction, the award honors books written for children ages 3 to 10. Established in 2010, this is the eighth time the award has been given by CELI, a center that provides support for Mississippi reading teachers.

“‘Grandma’s Tiny House’ is a diverse picture book that can be read aloud to children over and over again,” said Angie Caldwell, CELI literacy specialist who supervises the award process. “It’s a book that tells the story of a family celebration.”

Written by JaNay Brown-Wood, an author and educator in Sacramento, California, this year’s winner was selected from numerous titles, which were given to teachers in north Mississippi schools, including UM’s Willie Price Lab School. The finalists for this year’s award were read to more than 100 north Mississippi children this spring.

“This is a wonderful book for children,” said Shelly Embrey, librarian at Senatobia Elementary School. The rhyme and rhythm made it an excellent read-aloud book and the illustrations were inviting to the students and myself.”

Written from the perspective of a child staying with her grandmother on the day of a large family dinner, the book utilizes rhyming and counting to list the numerous friends and family members as they arrive at the little house and what they bring to the potluck-style gathering. As dozens cram into Grandma’s tiny house, the group must become resourceful to host the massive event.

“We loved reading ‘Grandma’s Tiny House’ in our classroom,” said Sarah Siebert, Willie Price teacher. “Any book that you can incorporate more than one subject is great. With this book, we had discussions about numbers and how our families are alike and different. 

“We also discussed why this family might be going to Grandma’s house, so our students were able to make predictions. We were so excited to hear it was the 2018 CELI Read Aloud Book Choice.”

The CELI Read Aloud Book Award program is partially supported from a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. The goal is to promote reading aloud to young children as a way to teach literacy, reinforce a love of reading and help children understand the deeper meaning behind books. Winning books may be published with the CELI Read Aloud award seal on the cover.

Participating teachers were asked to evaluate how well the texts stretch children’s imaginations, capture interest and utilize a rich vocabulary. A committee of UM faculty, staff and literacy teachers considered the results to select the winner.

“Grandma’s Tiny House,” was illustrated by Priscilla Burris and published by Charlesbridge in Watertown, Massachusetts.

About Andrew M. Abernathy