State Library Success: Choose to Read Ohio

Kendra Morgan /

The Choose to Read Ohio (CTRO) initiative highlights books by Ohio authors and illustrators to encourage reading. The program is run by the State Library of Ohio in collaboration with Ohioana Library Association and Ohio Center for the Book. With the support of an advisory council, books are nominated for selection and are then read and reviewed by “Ohio librarians, teachers, and others who are knowledgeable about books and readers.”

For the 2019 & 2020 program cycle, the feedback from the reviewers and the advisory committee members led to the selection of 20 books, and all of the authors have a connection to Ohio. The books are grouped into four categories, with five books per category:

  • Books for young children
  • Books for tweens/middle grades
  • Books for teens
  • Books for adults

This program began in 2009, and to qualify as an Ohio author for purposes of CTRO, an author must have been born in Ohio and/or have lived in Ohio for at least five years. A key highlight of the program is that each of the books on the list includes a toolkit which can help libraries with programming ideas. Each toolkit includes a synopsis of the book, information about the author, and topics for a discussion group. All 115 toolkits created to date are available for free download from

Showdown, by Wil Haygood a CTRO 2019-2020 selection
Showdown, by Wil Haygood,
a CTRO 2019-2020 selection

The toolkits also have options to “Go Further” and “Explore More,” with themes and resources aligned with the book. For example, for the book Showdown, a biography of Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, by Wil Haygood, the toolkit poses the questions “How familiar were you with the Supreme Court confirmation process before reading Showdown? What did you learn? What else did this book teach you about American government and U.S. history in the twentieth century?” and encourages readers to “go further” by visiting websites that highlight African American history and the struggle for equity and justice.

In addition to serving as a resource for libraries, these toolkits would also benefit individuals looking to host discussion groups, or simply learn more about a book and author. Highlighting local authors is a great way to engage the community and support people with a local connection.

Has your library considered a similar program to highlight local authors and illustrators? It’s a great way to raise their profile with readers. Kudos to the State Library of Ohio for such a long-standing and successful program!