Let me add this homegrown option to the list: Since 1992, the N.C. Children's Book Award has let kids pick their favorite picture book and junior books of the year. The program is sponsored by schools and libraries and aims to introduce kids to new children's literature.
North Carolina Library Association's children's committee pick a list of finalists based on suggestions from kids. Then kids vote for their favorite picture book or junior book.
The list of winners and nominees make for a great list for young readers to plow through especially as we head into a long summer vacation. Whenever I visit the library without my third grader, I have a list at the ready and just pull a couple off the shelves for her.
This year, the picture book winner was "The Haunted Hamburger and other Ghostly Stories," a collection of three ghost stories, written by David LaRochelle.
"Wonder," by R.J. Palacio, won in the junior book category. Both my third grader and I read "Wonder" earlier this year. It's a masterfully told story of a middle schooler with facial abnormalities. There are lessons about struggle, the importance of kindness, friendship. I highly recommend this book for kids and adults. It's a great read even if you're not a kid.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has the list of all of the finalists for 2014 and the nominees for 2015 on its website.