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The Towner Award 

Due to the closing of schools during the Covid-19 pandemic, all awards have shifted their timeline. Votes are due by Friday June 5th. 


2020 Towner Award Winner

Congratulations to the 2019 Towner Award Winner, Avalanche Dog Heroes: Piper and Friends Learn to Search the Snow by Elizabeth Rusch!

Avalanche Dog Heroes in Training is a nonfiction picture book illustrated with stunning, adorable photography that draws parallels between kids' experiences in elementary school and the training days of the avalanche rescue dogs of Crystal Mountain, Washington State's largest ski resort, located in the Cascade Range.

Follow along with Piper, a friendly border collie who came to the mountain as a smart but timid shelter dog, terrified by everything, as she confidently heads off to school on a chairlift to meet her canine classmates. Over a season they romp together through the snow, learning and practicing the skills they need to be avalanche rescue dogs and earn their rescue certification. You'll also learn the warning signs and conditions that cause an avalanche, the four types of avalanches, and the basics of avalanche safety.

Announcing the 2020 Towner Award Nominees!

2020 Towner Award Press Release



  • Avalanche Dog Heroes: Piper and Friends Learn to Search the Snow by Elizabeth Rusch (Sasquatch Books)
  • The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner (DK Children)
  • Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker (Henry Holt and Co.)
  • The Hen Who Sailed Around the World: A True Story by Guirec Soudée (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Highest Mountain, Smallest Star: A Visual Compendium of Wonders by Kate Baker, illustrated by Page Tsou (Big Picture Press)
  • Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood (HarperCollins)
  • Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot's World War II Story by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Melissa Iwai (Clarion Books)
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I Know Exactly What You Are by Julia Kregenow, illustrated by Carmen Saldaña (Sourcebooks Explore)
  • What Do They Do with All That Poo? by Jane Kurtz, illustrated by Allison Black (Beach Lane Books)
  • What's on Your Plate?: Exploring the World of Food by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Christiane Engel (Sterling Children's Books) 

Previous Winners

2019: This Book Isn't Safe by Colin Furze

2018: Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton, illustrated by Don Tate

2017: Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli

2016: Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy

2015: Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss

2014: Snakes by Nic Bishop 

Voting is for students in grade 2 through 6 in Washington State. Student votes can be submitted by school and public librarians only. In addition, we will recognize an Educators' Choice. This is your chance to share with other educators which book you found most useful in the classroom.

Join the Towner!

Our enthusiastic committee is looking for a few new members. Click here to apply!

The Washington State Student Award for Informational Text

The Towner Award is named after Bill Towner, longtime Seattle librarian and mentor to dozens of librarians. Bill was an outstanding teacher-librarian who worked with thousands of students from all backgrounds and taught all of them his love of literature. Bill showed us how caring teachers and librarians can make a difference.

This award is intended to complement other awards determined by student vote in the state of Washington; the Sasquatch, Washington’s Children Choice Picture Book and Young Readers’ Choice Awards. It is sponsored by the Washington Library Association School Library Division and intended for books enjoyed by students in grades Two through Six.

For the purposes of this award, Informational Text is defined as that which serves chiefly to convey factual information to the reader and may contain biography, narrative and other forms.

Each year a slate of ten books will be selected by a group of librarians from Washington state. This group will include public and school librarians, and members will be selected so as to provide representation for different parts of the state.