First, I chose 16 picture books from the previous year's "best of" lists, mostly the list compiled by ALSC and the ALA. I paired these books up together based on similar subject/tone/format for our first week.
Then I created a bulletin board with all these titles on it in a bracket. I also created a sheet that had all the titles on it in their pairs. The instructions encourage patrons to read the books and pick their favorite in the pair. The winners then to on to the second week with 8 titles and 4 match-ups. (I make a new sheet for this week). The voting continues for a week and then we are down to four titles. These battle it out for a week (on a new sheet with only those titles on it) until we reach the finals in the fourth week. The last two books do final battle for a week until one emerges victorious as our favorite book.
I checked out copies of all the books to the Children's Library account and put them with the display so that anyone can read the books and vote. Each book has a little strip of paper wrapped around the cover explaining that it can't be checked out until the match-ups are over. Patrons can vote for just one match up for for all of them.
The voting sheets are put in a basket as they are completed and then I pick them up periodically during the week to count the votes for each book.
I picked March for this program to coincide with March Madness so that kids can have fun with brackets as the basketball brackets really take hold. The program is free, since I used books from our collection and all you really need are the books, the signs, and the sheets.
I picked books from the ALA lists because I find that often books are distinguished or have star reviews and don't necessarily get checked out very frequently. I'm hoping to bring more attention to these titles and hoping that people will take the time to think critically about them - even if it's only to think which one they prefer. I tried to pick books at somewhat different levels, too (Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine and Byron Barton's My Car, for example) so that the books could speak to kids at different ages. I also considered choosing classic books (do you prefer "Good night Moon" or "Brown Bear Brown Bear"?) or really any other type of book.
I chose picture books because I wanted the program to be all-inclusive in regards to ages, but the program could also run with chapter books. I like that the picture books can be read together while the family is at the library.