In 1990, the Manitoba School Library Association decided to mark the International Year of Literacy by developing a literacy initiative that would have a positive and lasting impact on a vulnerable segment of the reading population, children in grades 4 through 8.
The Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award was born.
The MYRCA Selection Committee considers all Canadian novels written in English each year for the intended audience of ages 10 to 14 years, or grades 5 to 8. Grade 4 has been eliminated in order to make the selection more suitable for the entire age range. The 15 to 18 titles deemed the best find their way onto the MYRCA list for the following year. The selection committee is composed of teachers, teacher-librarians and library staff from a variety of Winnipeg school divisions. We also have representatives from the Winnipeg Public Library, the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg as well as at least one university professor of children’s literature and a bookseller. We encourage participation from rural Manitoba and currently have a professor from Brandon University.
The program is actively promoted across the province. Brochures are sent out to all Manitoba schools and public libraries. Students must read or have heard read a minimum of 3 of the titles to be eligible to vote. Votes are collected and tabulated in mid-April. To date, an average of about 1400 to 1500 votes are submitted, but we know many more young people are reading the MYRCA annual selections. We continue to find ways to promote awareness of the MYRCA program and to facilitate the voting process so that more young people will vote. One such initiative was the complete renewal of the MYRCA website in 2008.
An award ceremony is held in the fall. The winner receives a bronze plaque and a cash award of $1000. Since 2001, two Honour Books are selected and the winners receive dry mounted plaques featuring the covers of their books. Currently, only the winner is brought in to receive the award in person. One day we’d like to be able to accommodate the two Honour Book winners as well. Attendance at the award ceremony is by invitation only and is limited to those young people who have voted. Depending on the venue, we have welcomed between 200 and 500 young readers to this annual event.
As MYRCA evolved, it was determined that MYRCA’s potential for growth and continuity would increase as a registered charity. To that end, MYRCA became the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Awards Inc. , a non-share, not-for-profit corporation in 2008, which paved the way for it receiving charitable status in 2010.
MYRCA is a registered charity.