Quinten Lofquist likes to read.
According to his mother, Jessica, the 11-year-old from Garden City has been reading since kindergarten.
“He loves to read,” Jessica said. “He’s just always wanted to read.”
For the past three years, Quinten has read all of the books on the William Allen White Children’s Book Awards reading lists for both the third to fifth grades and sixth to eighth grades. For the 2016-17 school year, those lists included 21 books.
Now, that love of reading has given him an opportunity to make a very special trip — a chance to not only attend the William Allen White Children's Book Awards next month at Emporia State University, but also to also hand out an award to one of the winning authors.
According to ESU's website, the William Allen White Children’s Book Awards was started in 1952 by the late Ruth Garver Gagliardo. Each year, a committee selects books for children in grades three to five and six to eight. Children who read the books have the opportunity to vote for their favorite titles in their age groups. The winning authors are presented with the award during a celebration. This year, the 65th annual celebration will take place on Oct. 7 at ESU.
Holcomb Middle School librarian Judy Hopson has been taking children from her school to this event for 14 years. She challenges anyone from her school to read all of the books on both grade lists. The children who complete that task get to go to the event, which includes crafts, games and other activities for children.
“One of the purposes is to get kids to maybe read a book they wouldn’t have picked up on their own,” Hopson said.
Hopson said that the William Allen White Children’s Book Awards committee chooses a child to present the award to the author. They rotate between the six Kansas Association of School Librarians districts. This year, the presenter came from Hopson's district.
Hopson invited children who read every book on both reading lists for last year to compete for the honor.
“We let anybody who wanted to submit what they would use for a speech,” she said.
Quinten said in his speech he included, “what I thought about the book and why I thought it should win.”
Apparently Quinten's love of reading has also given him a way with words, as the committee selected him to present the award to this year’s third to fifth grade award recipient, Jennifer Brown, author of "Life on Mars."
Quinten gets to ride in a parade before the award ceremony, sit on the stage with the authors during the ceremony and have lunch with the authors after the ceremony.
“I thought it would be a great experience,” Quinten said.
When he meets Brown, he would like to ask her how she came up with her ideas for the book.
Jessica is glad her son has this opportunity.
“Any time you read a book, it helps you grow as a person to be aware, empathetic and understanding of other people and their circumstances,” she said.
Quinten said that reading has helped him in school, and he would like to encourage other children to read.
“The more you read, the better you are in life,” Quinten said.