About the Charter Oak Children's Book Award


  • Encourage K-3 students to develop an appreciation of outstanding writing and illustrations in current picture books.

  • Promote recognition of authors and illustrators of books for children.

  • Develop critical/evaluative thinking skills by comparing/contrasting the literary quality of nominated titles.

  • Prepare students for participation in the Nutmeg Book Award Program.


  • Nominated titles must be published within the last 2 years and preferably the book has not already won a national award at the time it is announced for COCBA nominating year. The rationale is to highlight authors and illustrators of high quality works. Typically, once an author has been recognized as a nominee, the committee reserves the right to not select another book by the author. Our hope is for participating schools to look for new works each year by the authors and illustrators who have been recognized as nominees. Our goal is that through participation in the COCBA program, students, librarians, and teachers are building their repertoire of authors and illustrators.

  • Fiction nominated titles must be in a picture book format, possess a read aloud quality, strong literary value, and offer an interest and appeal to children in kindergarten through grade three.

  • Nonfiction nominated titles should connect to content area curriculum and include back matter for further investigation.

  • Nominated titles should be a nominated title for another state's consideration in order to foster conversations about books with students beyond the state of CT (optional requirement).


Jane E. Martellino, a school media specialist, moved to Connecticut in 2007. Having spent three years employed in Hillsborough County Schools, Tampa Florida, Jane participated in both the Sunshine State Book Awards (equivalent to our Nutmeg) and also the FRA (Florida Reading Association) Young Children's Book Awards. Arriving in Connecticut, Jane learned that CT did not offer a K-3 book award program. So she waited. And waited. And in her fifth year of teaching in the New Fairfield School District, the golden opportunity surfaced. Mrs. Linda Norris, parent and PTO Book Fair Chairwoman, asked Jane what project she would love to see funded if the book fair funds could be designated for a special project. This was the moment THE CHARTER OAK CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD was born! Jane served for ten years as the chairperson for the COCBA program. At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, Jane retired from teaching in the Connecticut Public Schools, leaving COCBA as a legacy to her career in CT education.


The 2022-2023 school year marks the 12th year for the COCBA program. Each year, an increased number of students from the state of Connecticut participate in the program. If your school has not enrolled in this year's program, please sign-up today. Visit the "Timeline" page for important dates and utilize the "Resources" page for activities and extensions.

In 2014, a COCBA Committee was formed and continues to be responsible for choosing the nominated titles, locating and creating extension activities, and helping to coordinate partnerships with participating schools. Publishers may submit titles in final or galley copy for review by contacting, Christina O'Neill (email: coneill114@gmail.com).