Comstock Read Aloud Book Award Program

Comstock Read Aloud Book Award is an annual award for the best read aloud picture book for older children (ages 9-12). This award is named for the Comstock Family, an important pioneer family in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Description of Award

The Comstock Read Aloud Book Award for children’s literature, sponsored by the Curriculum Materials Center at Minnesota State University Moorhead, is for the best picture book of the year to read aloud to older children. Picture books for children from the age range of 9-12 are considered.

This annual award reflects the following goals:

  • Recognizing authors and illustrators of outstanding picture books to read aloud.
  • Promoting reading and reading aloud as lifelong activities.
  • Assisting anyone who reads to children with the selection of quality picture books.
  • Providing MSUM students with practice to improve reading aloud skills.
  • Offering children ample opportunities to listen and respond to quality literature.

Book Seals History & Background


Eligibility requirements include the following:

  • The book must be a picture book for a child audience ranging from preschool through age 8.
  • The picture book may be of any genre.
  • The book must have been published and available for purchase in the year under consideration. Books published in an earlier year outside the United States are eligible if they are published in the United States in the year under consideration. 
  • The format of the book may be hardcover, paperback, spiral bound, or in portfolio. Electronic books, audio books, textbooks, and manuscripts will not be considered.
  • New editions of previously published books or reissued editions are not eligible.
  • The book may be bilingual or multilingual as long as English is one of the languages of the book.
  • Condensations, excerpts, or abridgements of an original book will not be eligible.

Criteria Related to How the Book Appeals to Children

The evaluation criteria include:

  • Book stretches a child's imagination
  • Book holds the interest of children
  • Book is memorable for children. The child is interested in repeated readings.
  • Book shows respect for the individual child and the children of the world
  • Book uses a rich vocabulary
  • Book's text and illustrations stimulate children to respond in a variety of ways

Criteria for the Text

The evaluation criteria may include:

  • How well the theme or concept is presented
  • How information is presented, including organization, clarity, and accuracy
  • How well plot, setting, characters are developed
  • How appropriate the style of language is to the book's topic/theme and to being read aloud

Criteria for the Art/Illustrations

The evaluation criteria used:

  • Book provides children with an excellent visual experience, with consideration for the following
    • Artistic medium
    • Artistic style
    • Elements of art and design principles
    • Picture book design (type face, layout, book jacket/cover, etc.)
  • Book's illustrations enhance the read aloud experience by complementing the text

Administration of the Award

The staff of the Curriculum Materials Center of Minnesota State University Moorhead administer the award. The Center with its large collection of children’s books and other educational materials provides resources and materials to pre-service and in-service teachers at the preschool through secondary levels. Each year the committee field-tests picture books and chooses the best read aloud picture book of the year. Committee members are selected based on their experience with children and their knowledge of children’s books. The committee is comprised of the Curriculum Materials Center Librarian, at least one University student and one University faculty or staff member, and at least one member of the community. Normally, the Curriculum Materials Center Librarian will chair the committee. The chair is a voting member, presides at meetings, and facilitates discussion. The chair has sole responsibility for contact with publishers.


Publishers should nominate books for the award. (Please refer to the eligibility guidelines above). The committee may also nominate books and accept nominations from the public. Please send three copies for committee review to:

Angela Beaton
Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards
MSUM – Livingston Lord Library
1104 7th Avenue South
Moorhead, MN 56563

For consideration full consideration books must be received by December 15 annually. Publishers are urged to send their nominations as soon as possible. For more information, contact Angela Beaton at the Curriculum Materials Center, 218.477.2350, or

solomon comstockSolomon G. Comstock

Solomon G. Comstock (1842-1933) was a Minnesota state senator and a U.S. Congressman. He is considered the "Father" of Moorhead State Normal School (now Minnesota State University Moorhead) because in 1885 he introduced to the Minnesota State Legislature a proposal to build the state’s fourth "normal school" in Moorhead. The proposal was successfully passed by the Legislature in 1887. Comstock also donated the six acres of land upon which the university was founded. (Picture courtesy of MSUM Archives.)

sarah comstockSarah Comstock

Sarah Comstock (1845-1941), the wife of Solomon, was instrumental in establishing the first public library in Moorhead. (Picture courtesy of MSUM Archives.)

ada comstockAda Comstock

Ada Comstock (1876-1973), the eldest child of Solomon and Sarah, had a distinguished career in higher education. She attended the University of Minnesota and Smith College. After graduating from Smith, she attended the Moorhead State Normal School, where she became certified to teach. She was appointed as the first Dean of Women at the University of Minnesota and later served as the first Dean of Smith College. In 1923 she became President of Radcliffe College. (Picture courtesy of MSUM Archives.)

Comstock-Gág Read Aloud Book Awards Seals

comstock-gold-seal.pngComstock Seal

Jeff Tessman, an art and graphic design major at Minnesota State University Moorhead, designed the Comstock Book Award seals. In Jeff’s words, “The Comstock design portrays reading as an enjoyable pastime. It is a unique way in which family members can spend quality time learning together. Pictured, a boy and girl take turns reading to each other (equality); behind them is the sunrise, an image of a brighter future with its rays ever expanding (knowledge). The laurels are an ancient acknowledgment of higher achievement (esteem) and the whole idea was placed within a circle (eternal) to represent that this is a quality concept that should be nurtured for future generations.”

wanda-gag-gold-seal.pngWanda Gág Seal

Anthony Ryan, an art and graphic design graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, designed the Wanda Gág Book Award seals. The design incorporates a pen-and-ink drawing of Wanda Gág of an apple tree that appears as an illustration form the Grimm Brother's tale "Mother Holle" in Gág's book entitled More Tales from Grimm.

For more information about purchasing seals and to obtain a price quote, please contact Angela Beaton at