Gearing Up for Caldecott

(Post from my prior blog, Back in the Classroom.)

Awards week is one short week away, so this week I’m spending time reading and talking Caldecott hopefuls. Wish I could have started earlier, but we’ll do what we can.

We’ve spent a lot of time in my classroom lately talking about how to rate books. The reading logs we use during independent reading have a space to award a book 1-5 stars. Usually my second graders base that rating on how well they liked the book. Upon returning from winter break, we’ve added this star rating to our home reading as well. Our latest reading logs that we use to record home reading have a space for the star rating and our reasons why. Our conversations over that week shifted from how well we liked a book to how well the author or illustrator crafted the book. So when we talk about a book being funny, we ask “What did the author and illustrator do to make you laugh?” We talk about how the richness of details in illustrations, character descriptions, exchanges between characters, and so on contribute to the responses we have as readers. Together, we developed a rubric to help us decide on a star rating when we’re unsure. Pretty serious stuff for eight year olds! I really wanted to have these conversations and experiences looking at books in a different way before we took on our Caldecott work.

So here’s the plan for this week. I got ideas for my Caldecott short list to read aloud from many other blogs – Calling Caldecott, Goodreads, and my first go-to spot, Mr.Schu Reads. I think I read that Travis Jonker, who is on the Caldecott Committee this year, considered something like 600 books! I’m just hoping that some of the books we are reading and rating actually get a nod from the committee. I was nervous putting together my list and couldn’t get my hands on some hopefuls at this late date. Here’s our list:
Brave Girl
Flora and the Flamingo
Niño Wrestles the World
Warning: Do Not Open This Book
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
Hello, My Name Is Ruby
The Story of Fish and Snail
The Dark
Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great

So this week, we will look at the criteria, read and discuss books, and rate them. I like the idea of separating story and illustration as we discuss what we appreciate that the author and illustrator did and concerns we have. I also think I’ll take Travis Jonker’s suggestion of having kids rate on a scale of 1-3 instead of 1-5. All this before next Monday!

Last year was the first time that I actually watched the awards due to all the One and Only Ivan frenzy on Twitter and it was so exciting. I think I actually screamed when the Newbery was announced! I hope that this week builds that same level of excitement for my second graders!