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Charlie May Simon Book Award

City Spies by James Ponti is the 2023 Charlie May Simon Award Winner.

Charlie May Simon medal

The Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award for children’s literature has been presented annually since 1971 to an author whose book has been selected through a vote taken by Arkansas school children in grades four, five and six. The purpose of the award is to promote better reading for children and to recognize Mrs. John Gould Fletcher, an outstanding Arkansas author who wrote under the pen name Charlie May Simon.

Reading Selection & Awards Process

The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), the Arkansas State Library, and the Arkansas Literacy Association are pleased to announce the annual selection process for the Charlie May Simon Book Award.

Titles are selected by the reading committee per established guidelines. Anyone interested in serving on the reading committee can contact Ruth Hyatt at for more information.


The Charlie May Simon Award winner is selected annually by student votes. Cassandra Barnett of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will send out ballot collection forms to all schools in early May. The voting window will last one week. If you need to be added to her distribution list, please email Cassandra at

This year the award committees responded to many concerns on the part of school librarians who can’t afford to purchase enough books for students to have access to a minimum of three books over the award cycle. The goal is to give as many students as possible the chance to participate in the voting process. Previously, if they didn’t have access to three of the nominees during the school year, then they were denied the opportunity to vote. Now, if your student has only had the chance or made the choice to read or be read only one of the titles on the nominations list, and they love it, they may cast their vote for it. If they have had a chance to experience more than one title, they must choose their favorite and cast a single vote for that title.

About Charlie May Simon

Charlie May Simon was born August 17, 1897, at Monticello, Arkansas, but moved to Memphis at an early age. She attended Memphis State University, Stanford University and the Chicago Art Institute. She returned to Arkansas after she married John Gould Fletcher in 1936. Throughout her lifetime, Mrs. Fletcher traveled extensively, gathering information for her many prize winning biographies. She lived at Johnswood, her home in Little Rock, until her death in 1977.

During her distinguished career, Charlie May Simon wrote over 27 books for children and young adults. Her first work, Robin on the Mountain, was published in 1934 and is considered a classic in children’s literature. Other works include Straw in the Sun, All Men are Brothers, and Faith has Need of All the Truth.

For more information about the program, contact: