The Nebraska Golden Sower Award program was initiated by Karla Hawkins Wendelin and Dee Storey at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Three children's choice awards are presented annually: *
Picture Book category: titles appropriate for grades kindergarten through 2
Chapter Book category: titles appropriate for grades 3 through 5
Golden Sower Novel category: titles appropriate for grades 6 through 8
First presented in 1981, the award honored Deborah and James Howe for Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery. The single category, Chapter Book, drew 4,185 readers/voters.
The first award in the Picture Book category was presented in 1983 to author Judy Barrett and illustrator Ron Barrett for their book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. With the addition of the Chapter Book category, votes grew to 9,960.
The Golden Sower Novel category was added in the fall of 1992. The first Golden Sower Novel award was presented to Joan Lowery Nixon in 1993 for Whispers From the Dead. Vote totals reached 59,688!
Thousands of Nebraska's students participate in the Golden Sower Award program each year as evidenced by the program's annual voting records. The 2012-2013 program set a new voting record with more than 73,000 votes.
The winners are announced in May.
The award is presented annually at the Fall Conference sponsored by Nebraska Library Association (NLA) and Nebraska School Librarians Association (NSLA, formerly NEMA). The Golden Sower Virtual Museum documents winning authors' and illustrators' response to receiving the Golden Sower Award.
*The categories were formerly called Primary, Intermediate and Young Adult. The names of the categories were changed in 2016.