Indian Paintbrush Book Award (Grades 4-6)

The Indian Paintbrush Book Award provides an opportunity for Wyoming youth in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades to choose their favorite book from a list of 10 nominees and honor its author.

The Indian Paintbrush Award is unique in that Wyoming students nominate the books as well as vote for the award winner. The philosophy of the Indian Paintbrush Award is to empower students to recognize and read quality contemporary children’s literature.

The Indian Paintbrush Book Award is sponsored by the Wyoming Library Association and the Wyoming State Literacy Association. 

2023-2024 Awards

  • 2024-2025 voting form (due March 15, 2024)

    NOTE: the form says 2024-2025, but these are 2023-2024 titles.

  • Nominees poster (PDF, PNG, Word)
  • Labels (PDF, Word)
  • Packet (PDF, Word)

2024-2025 Awards

  • 2024-2025 nominations form (due March 1, 2024)
  • 2024-2025 voting form
  • Materials (available 2024)

Winners & Nominees (2020-2025)



Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) by B.B. Alston
The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day
The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill
Unplugged by Gordon Korman
The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels (#1) by Beth Lincoln
Lines of Courage by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Nugly by M.C. Ross
The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary D. Schmidt
The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
Roll with It by Jamie Sumner



by Katherine Applegate

by Bobbie Pyron
Ali Cross
by James Patterson 


The Aquanaut by Dan Santat

Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett

A Rover's Story by Jasmine Warga

Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship” by Deborah Heiligman

The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Wreck at Ada's Reef by Michael D. Biel


My Life as a Potato
by Arianne Costner

Scary Stories for Young Foxes
by Christian McKay Heidicker

Ban This Book

by Alan Gratz

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo
Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
History Smashers: The Mayflower by Kate Messner
Linked by Gordon Korman
tarfish by Lisa Fipps
Switched by Bruce Hale
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed


New Kid
by Jerry Craft

First runner-up
by Rodman Philbrick

Second runner-up
A Wolf Called Wander
by Rosanne Parry

Becoming Muhammad Ali
by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander
The Benefits of Being an Octopus
by Ann Braden
Hello, Universe
by Erin Entrada Kelly
The House with Chicken Legs
by Sophie Anderson
Out of Hiding by Ruth Gruener
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
by Dan Gemeinhart
Us, in Progress
by Lulu Delacre


The Trail
by Meika Hashimoto

First runner-up
White Bird
by R. J. Palacio

Second runner-up
by Alan Gratz
by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead
Dear Sister
by Alison McGhee
Fish in a Tree
by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Forest of Wonders by Linda Sue Park
Framed! by James Ponti
Front Desk
by Kelly Yang
Rising Water by Marc Aronson


by Jennifer Li Shotz

First runner-up
by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Second runner-up
Some Kind of Courage
by Dan Gemeinhart


Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
One for Sorrow
by Mary Downing Hahn
Sunny by Jason Reynolds
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
by Leslie Connor

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Committee Composition & Responsibilities

Committee Members

The committee of eight is composed of four members of the Wyoming Library Association (twp school or academic, two public), and fpur members of the Wyoming State Literacy Association.

Each member will serve a 3-year term, with the option to serve a second term. If a member leaves the committee, they are allowed to serve another term if an opening becomes available and they’re willing to do so.

Committee members are responsible for reading widely from the nominations list and contributing insight when building the next year’s list during the annual meeting. The meeting will take place either as a conference call, Zoom, or another online meeting format.

Members may choose to serve as co-chair at any time during their term.


Co-chairs will serve for two years; one incoming and one outgoing. Outgoing co-chair serves as the lead, and trains the incoming co-chair.

Responsibilities include:

  • Help to recruit and inform new committee members of responsibilities.
  • Ensure committee members are current paying members of their respective organizations.
  • Tally student votes and announce winners.
  • Promote with posters and bookmarks.
  • Update website information.
  • Contact winning author via social media or e-mail to inform of win and get address for award.
  • Have award plaque made (see sample below) and ship to author.
  • Create and manage nominations spreadsheet.
  • Remove titles that don’t meet criteria.
  • Organize titles alphabetically and fill in additional information (level, MC, etc.).
  • Communicate with committee members about reading and meeting.
  • Before committee meeting, check with the Soaring Eagle committee to ensure books don’t overlap on final nomination lists.
  • Update Committee Guidelines and By-Laws as needed, but at least every five years. Last updated in 2020 by Mary Borthwick and Melissa Snider.

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Award Guidelines

The Indian Paintbrush Book Award is jointly sponsored by the Wyoming Library Association (Children’s/YA Section and the School Library/Media Personnel Section) and the Wyoming State Literacy Association. 

The Wyoming Library Association established this award in 1985 to promote literacy and encourage conversations around quality literature among Wyoming youth.


Wyoming fourth, fifth, and sixth graders are encouraged to read or listen to as many of the nominated books as possible (a minimum of three) and vote for their favorite. Librarians, teachers, and parents are encouraged to promote these titles and read some of the books aloud to their students.

Books on the list will be accessible to students with a range of reading abilities, and will represent a diversity of characters and experiences. Each spring the students vote, at school or at the public library, for their favorite book from the list. Sponsoring adults collect and submit the votes online through WYLA.org. The committee announces winning titles through the WLA and Wyoming State Literacy Association listservs. Teachers and librarians also share this information directly with students and patrons.

Nominating Criteria

  • Books may be fiction or nonfiction, and in any format (e.g. novel in verse, graphic novel).

  • Each book’s U.S. copyright date must be within the past five years.

  • Books must be in print at the time of nomination. 

  • Books must be nominated by Wyoming students in grades 4-6. 

  • Only one title per author will be included on the nominations list. 

  • No author can be on the list for two consecutive years. 

  • No title can be on the nominees list more than once.

Committee Guidelines

The Indian Paintbrush Book Award Committee begins compiling a list of nominations in January and reads as many of the nominated titles as possible. The committee meets in April to finalize a list of 10 titles. This list becomes the ballot for the next school year, and is shared widely with teachers and librarians.

Considerations for Nominated Books

1.  Book meets all nominating criteria for award.

2.  Committee takes into account the number of individual and school nominations a book receives state-wide.

3.  Committee members use professional knowledge of children’s literature to determine the value a book will add to the list. 

4.  Book must have at least two published reviews, or be considered on its own merit if a book is of local interest or by a Wyoming author.

5.  Books in a series may be considered if it’s the first in a series, or if the title stands alone.

6.  Books should be designated by publishers or in reviews as appropriate for middle-grade readers (not YA).

7.  If possible, at least 50% of nominees should be available in paperback.

8.  Committee will consider representing a variety of genres and a diversity of experiences in terms of gender, socioeconomic status, race, etc. when building the list of nominated titles.

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