Monday, January 23, 2012

Caldeoctt Voting and Newbery Club Reflections

This morning, as they are announcing the Caldecott and Newbery Awards at ALA Midwinter. As much as I would LOVE to be at the Youth Media Awards announcements, I won't be there.  But we will be having our own fun as our school's Newbery Club will be enjoying donuts while we watch the live webcast.  We are all excited to see which book will win the award and I am sure the follow-up conversations will be amazing.

As a school, we spent this week looking at many of the Caldecott contenders.  All students in grades 1-5 voted and here are our results:

Mock  Caldecott Winner:
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Mock Caldecott Honors:

Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage

Our  Riverside Mock Newbery Club has been meeting for a year. This week, the kids voted from the short list we had created.  The winner of our vote was:  INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai.

Riverside's Mock Newbery Honors:
HIDDEN by Helen Frost.

My reason for starting the Newbery Club at our school was to build a group of older readers who had stamina to read really great books.  I had noticed that other than THE LIGHTNING THIEF, CITY OF EMBER and a few other titles, many our older kids needed a push to expand their lives as readers. Our kids are readers. The teachers run amazing Reading Workshops and I felt like I could support the work they were doing by supporting great book choice with a group of kids that was interested.

Our club has about 25ish members.  We meet on Mondays and we average about twice a month.  The members are all 5th graders and we started meeting a year ago--in January of 2011. They were 4th graders at the time and we continued the group in the fall as 5th graders (with a few new members:-)  It has been a pretty simple club.  Kids come in, eat lunch in the library and chat about books. Or they chatted about 5th grade stuff and then moved onto books. My plan was to have a more structured club and months where we were all reading the same book, etc.  But it didn't turn out that way.

This group did not like "assigned" reading so a whole group book never took off.  They were clear that they were in charge of their reading lives. So, I handled it differently than I had planned. It was very unstructured and because of that, it ended up surpassing any goals I had set for it.

I started the club with a pile of 2011 arcs and added to the pile with new books and arcs as they were released.  For a while, our meetings were merely about picking books. Members were just trying to read lots of 2011 books. Kids would share informally about the books they read and decide on their next read. As time went on and buzz around books picked up, books started circulating between meetings so book swapping was no longer the focus of our meetings.

As we began this school year, we started to look at some Mock sites and I started to share books that were being talked about as possible Newbery winners. I created this JOG THE WEB highlighting books that were highly reviewed. Members explored this during a few meetings this fall and continued to revisit it as needed.  I began to house the 2011books on a specific shelf near the checkout desk.  Kids came in and out of the library every day to pick a book.

Then in November, we created our own Short List. Kids voted and as we chatted, I was amazed at how many great books the group had read.  The books on the shortlist were INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN, BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX, TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE, ROMEO AND JULIET CODE, HIDDEN, SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT, THE UNWANTEDS and A DOG'S WAY HOME. They really were talking ONLY about amazing books. Talk is always good when the book is good and the books being discussed, shared and passed around the group were amazing. Even though we had never had a formal conversation, it was clear to me that just sharing the experience, sharing books they loved, having time to read and tools to support great book choice, this group grew as a community. The informal chat was powerful.

When I think back to the year, I am amazed at how these kids grew as readers. They tried new genres, discovered new authors, fell in love with great books and shared those books with others. Many of them experienced ebook reading -- some liked it and some did not.  They grew as readers in so many areas over the year.   I know this growth wasn't solely because of the club, but I think it was a way to put new quality books in their hands. They learned about stamina, quality book choice, talk, community.  And it was a great way for me, as the librarian, to get to know a group of readers at a different level.

My plan was to end the group after the ALA announcement and start a new 4th grade group this month, but I hate to end this group. They are reading and talking about books like crazy. And I can really just sit back and listen.  My thinking now is to keep them together as a group that keeps up with new books.  Or to start them off on their own Newbery Club that they might continue on their own into middle school.   They seem the perfect group to spread the word about great new books.

For me, this is such an exciting day!  I have so many books that I loved from 2011. So many titles that I'd love to see win these award.  So many deserving authors and illustrators. I am crossing my fingers for a few favorites!


  1. I am so inspired by this post! You did a great job with this club. My favorite thing about it is how flexible you were; letting the kids lead with what caught fire for them was brilliant. I am so excited for you to be watching the awards together! I think you should keep the club going so the kids can keep reading whatever winners they may not have read yet; or re-reading the winners and discussing the ins and outs. After the awards there is always so much talk going on, it will be fun for the kids to follow all that.

    Enjoy the fun today!

  2. I love the way you spoke of choice and of the ways the students grew as readers. After this morning they'll have quite a lot to discuss and discover, won't they? Some familiar winners, some not so much. It will be amazing if they continue as a group. That history among them is important, too. Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. I've heard Wonderstruck is absolutely fanstastic. I am so behind. . .too many books, not enough time.

  4. Thank you for this post. I did not do a book group for the first time this year, partly because I have now been assigned recess duty in the middle of two lunch blocks but also because I was never really satisfied with the way I had led my book groups in the past. I will take some of your techniques to heart and try to mix it up a little next year (...and to put in a plug for no recess duty at least one day per week!).

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I think it's so important how this group evolved in such an authentic way! So often as teachers we put pressure on ourselves for a group or a lesson or a conference to "look" a certain way. We need to trust that if we give students the time and space they will take charge of their reading lives. Kudos to you for trusting them. Your passion and love for literacy was contagious. Thanks for sharing - such a good reminder to let students take the lead!

  7. It's very beautiful blog, I'm happy to visit your blog,
    couples cooking classes

  8. I have a logistics question - our 5/6 grade media specialist and I would like to start this in our school. However, our kids have different lunch times. How did you work it out for the club to be able to meet during lunch all at the same time? I would assume your kids have various lunch times, also.


We welcome your contribution to the conversation!