Everyone Wins With These Book Battles!

February 12th is the American Library Association Youth Media Awards- this is where the Caldecott and Newbery winners are announced each year (as well as several other categories of children’s literature and media).  Across the country during the month of January, many classrooms hold MOCK CALDECOTT or MOCK NEWBERY awards, in which students read and choose their favorite picture books and chapter books. This creates a buzz for books and reading that culminates in viewing the awards live.

If you’d like to generate some buzz with your students here are a few ideas for now or later! You can find many other ideas, activities, and resources with the links I’ve included.


 MOCK CALDECOTT– Read a picture book a day for the month and invite students to quick write after each. Did you like it or not? Why? (Remember the Caldecott looks at the illustrations) At the end of the month, ask them to choose 1 book they would vote for to win the Caldecott. http://100scopenotes.com/2017/11/01/mock-caldecott-2018/

 MOCK NEWBERY– Since these books take longer consider reading book blurbs or showing book trailers of potential contenders and ask grade 3-6 students to quick write their opinion of the book based on the summary using Newbery criteria At the end of the month, ask them to choose 1 book they would vote for to win the Newbery.

March Madness

BATTLE OF THE BOOKS (Picture Books)– Read 2 picture books to your students and ask them to quick write which book they liked more and why.  Continue this activity for several days to give students many opportunities to evaluate and analyze texts. This could be differentiated for K-6 students. You could You could create a bracket for books much like the March Madness for basketball to choose a “Caldecott winner”. You might want to consider state reading award books. In Maine we have the Chickadee Awards! (you could also view picture book trailers)

 BATTLE OF THE BOOKS (Chapter Books) Set up a similar battle as the picture books only students could brainstorm a list of books they read this year or you could use contenders for Newbery Award (see below)or your state awards (in Maine we have MSBA )to set up the brackets.


Invite each student to choose one book they have read that they would love to see win an award. They can create a presentation to share to try to convince others why it should win an award. This doesn’t have to be limited to Caldecott/Newbery, ALA has many award categories that middle grade students could check out. Differentiate presentations depending on time and skill: Posters, Speeches, Presentations, Quick Writes, Essays, Advertisements… just have fun and immerse yourselves in great books.


After looking through contender lists (below) or book trailers (see links above) ask students to choose 1 book that they will most likely add to their TO-BE-READ (TBR) list for this year. Give them an index card to recreate or draw the book jacket and create a poster to put in the hallway to ignite other students’ interest and curiosity. At the end of the year revisit the poster and see who actually read their books.



Or you can just Google Mock Caldecott or Mock Newbery for resources.

It doesn’t really matter the format you choose, the idea is to create a buzz for books that engages your students. These book battles encourage wide reading and higher order thinking such as analyzing and evaluating. They generate excitement and interest in books that students may not have sought out or encountered on their own.

What’s On My Book Radar?


Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 10.01.13 AMGOOD DOG by Dan Gemeinhart
I didn’t think Dan Gemeinhart could possibly maintain his streak of “greatest hits” but GOOD DOG should have been called GREAT DOG! There are so many twists and turns, and tears in this book that I hated having to put it down to go to work or sleep!
Brodie was a dog. He died. But when he woke up he knew he had to go back somehow and save his boy, Aiden from “the monster” (who happened to be his father). Trouble is, it isn’t easy going back, he’d risk his soul if he failed. The living world is beautiful, but it is also ugly sometimes and Brodie gets a chance to see just how cruel it can be-especially when those you love are in trouble. Make sure you have some uninterrupted time and some tissues when you read this one.
Comes out March 27th. (I’d pre-order!)




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