Caldecotts and Covers….

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Inly’s third grade students are hard at work and having fun learning about the winners of the 2016 Caldecott Award, the award presented annually  “to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” Our goal is for the kids to engage with the art, learn what criteria the committee uses to make their selection, and most of all to enjoy looking at the wide range of styles used by illustrators.



We began by showing the students past Caldecott winners – all the way back to Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1942) and one of my favorites, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (1943).  The kids lined the books up in chronological order – they were especially delighted by the the flying flogs in David Wiesner’s illustrations for Tuesday (1992).


After that, we displayed ten books that were realistic contenders (according to on-line predictions) for the 2016 award. The kids were not told which five made it to the medal stand, but we asked them to narrow the field. The big reveal came when the books were lined up on the table and, after enthusiastic votes on each book’s fate, we removed the books that didn’t make the cut.


Their biggest disappointment – Float by Daniel Miyares. One student was prepared to call the committee and ask them to reconsider.


At this point, the kids are choosing their favorite book from the five actual medal winners:

Last Stop on Market Street


Trombone Shorty




Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement



Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear

Working with our tech integrationist, the students are going to make short videos to convince their classmates that their book should be given the gold sticker! Along the way, they are learning to describe books using picture book vocabulary – words like gutter, endpapers, and typography.


We haven’t told them that Finding Winnie is the actual winner and, of course, there’s a chance they will figure it out or look it up. But that’s okay. Until then, we just want them to make persuasive arguments for their selections.  One advantage we have is that all of the books were in the Library before winning the award – none of them were purchased after receiving their shiny new hardware!

Speaking of book art….

A recent trip to Barnes and Noble made it clear that there are some trends happening in the design of middle grade book covers.

These three books share a similar aesthetic……




And check this out….




If you see any of Inly’s third grade students, don’t tell them about Finding Winnie!


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