I think the aspect of the Caldecott award that intrigues me the most is the criteria that states the books must have “excellence of pictorial interpretation of the story, theme, or concept.” My own class it currently writing their own books to be hard bound and published by an outside publisher, and the part of the books they are working on right now, which I ingeniously planned for them to do this week and next, is to add illustrations to their story. The format of the books they are writing and illustrating is that each written page has an illustrated page facing it. I instructed the students to make an illustration that goes directly with the written page it is facing. I have found that writing the story is the easiest part of the project for the students, it is putting their words into an illustration that is the most difficult for them.
One of the most interesting websites I found concerning Mock Caldecotts was a lesson plan on how to hold a Mock Caldecott, which includes the materials needed, the background information of Caldecotts, learning objectives, and the steps necessary to conduct this lesson plan. It can be found at http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/preview.cgi?LPid=22131. I especially liked that this lesson plan, as opposed to some other sites I found that included lessons plans to conduct Mock Caldecotts, last two days instead of several days or weeks.
Another website I found helpful for holding a Mock Caldecott in a classroom was a blog at https://trybrary.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/a-mock-caldecott/. It shows examples of how another teacher set up her Mock Caldecott in a little different way than simply having the students read the nominees and choose from them. By listing some other books not nominated and not published in the current year allowed the students to take ownership in the final list of nominees. I love her idea of showing a winner’s bracket with the books covers large enough to hang on the wall for all of the students to see.
If I were to hold a Mock Caldecott or Mock Newbery in my classroom, I would choose the Mock Caldecott. I think that the specific class of students that I have right now are more interested in reading books that they can complete quickly, and the majority of grade-level picture books can meet that criteria. One of my goals for my students is to have them reading more grade-level books that we can discuss together, as well as reading as many different books as possible, so that they have books that they can compare and contrast. While chapter books can take several weeks to read, the students can read the picture books in a short period of time. To conduct a Mock Caldecott would give the students a wider variety of books to review and choose from, while several students may only have the opportunity to read one or two books on the Newbery award list.
The biggest challenge in conducting a Mock Caldecott would be the availability of books published in the year the books are being chosen from. At my own local library, I was only able to secure one of the books from the list, Maybe Something Beautiful, by F. Isabel Compay and Theresa Howell, and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Our school library does not own a single book from any list I could find on the internet. With district funds where they are, I would be required to purchase the books on my own every year. This can get pretty expensive. While searching Amazon.com for some of the books on the list, they ranged from $12 up to $20 each. To purchase 20 or 30 books each year can really add up! I also checked on the Scholastic Book Club website. After checking on 15 titles, the only one available from their collection right now is We Found a Hat, by Jan Klassen for $17 or 435 points.
By the way, ladies and gentlemen, just a quick FYI: When you have your own classroom, you MUST get an account with Scholastic https://clubs.scholastic.com/. It is free and you receive points for every book purchased by you or your students. Points can be used to purchase books or classroom items.
After reading the different lists of nominees, the three books I most want to read are We Found a Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen, Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome, and The Thank You Book, written and illustrated by Mo Willems. I want to read We Found a Hat because the reviews I found about it online were really good, and one of the other books in the trilogy Mr. Klassen has written won a Caldecott medal, as well. Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong is interesting to me because I wrote a research paper about Louis Armstrong many, many years ago for a Music Appreciation class and found his life to be just incredibly interesting to me, and also because I enjoy reading historically accurate books. I chose The Thank You Book simply because I love Mo Willems’ books. I have not found one yet that I have not enjoyed, so I have no doubt I would love this one, as well.
I had several books selected from the lists of nominees to read this week, including the three mentioned above as well as The Airport Book, Some Winter!: The Story of E.B. White, Fish, The Sound of Silence, Henry & Leo, Duck, Duck, Porcupine!, Fun with Fred and Ed, The Toad, School’s First Day of School, Du Iz Tak?, Flora and the Peacocks, Thunderboy, Jr., and Ideas are All Around. Not a single one of these books was at my local library. I wound up printing a list of potential Caldecott medal books and gave it to the children’s librarian. The only book available was Maybe Something Beautiful, and the gentleman had to get it from a back room because they had just recently received it. It was so new it was not even in their system yet. I was very lucky to find even one book! Bless that young man for going to all of the work to find me a book! That being said, I didn’t read any children’s books that were published this year, so I would not be able to suggest any to be included on the list of Caldecott nominees, because all of the books I was able to find from any lists this semester were published prior to 2016 except for Maybe Something Beautiful.