Classroom Awards

My class this year helped me with my goal of reading the Newbery before it was announced at the ALA Midwinter meeting. They cheered me on, snagged my ARCs after I read them, and helped keep me motivated when my to-be-read pile became overwhelming. On Monday morning they came into the room asking, “Did Emma-Jean win?? Did they announce it? Was it a book you read??” (We read Emma-Jean aloud, and they loved her!). After I shared the winners with them, I also told them I had good news for all of them- one of their favorites had won the Caldecott Medal! Needless to say, everyone who had read “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” was thrilled beyond words. It was a great day!

On Monday, I also had the pleasure of introducing our latest project to them- our very own classroom awards! The students spent our reading workshop time reviewing the list of previous Newbery winners to see which ones they had previously read and enjoyed. As a class, we discussed the books to see if they had any special qualities in common. They had read and average of 6-8 books from the list. Needless to say, they were a bit impressed that I have read 86 of the winning titles/honor books!

We then reviewed the criteria and terms for the Newbery Medal. We read each rule carefully, noting the definitions of the phrases that we were not familiar with. The students were shocked that the rules were so open. They thought that it was much stricter and seemed to think only certain books could even be eligible for the award. It was certainly an eye-opening experience for them.

After reviewing the past winners and learning about the terms for the Newbery Medal, we began to brainstorm criteria for our own classroom award- the Mulbery! The students conferred with one another, sharing criteria as they brainstormed. Other students would then respond to the suggestions. Once we came to a consensus, the rule was added to the chart. After about 15 minutes of debate, we came up with the following criteria:

  • books may be published in any year
  • ARCs are eligible to win
  • books must be published for ages 10-16 (they decided that they tend to read YA novels with a few MG thrown in)
  • authors do not have to be American or maintain American residency
  • fiction books must be at least 100 pgs. to be eligible
  • both fiction and non-fiction books are eligible
  • if necessary, the committee may designate categories, such as “Best Series”, “Best New Author”, etc.
  • each student may nominate up to 3 titles
  • nominations will close at the end of March
  • in order to vote for the awards, you must have read a percentage of the books (TBD) or your vote will be discarded
  • only my students are eligible to cast votes

Criteria may be added at a later date, should the class deem it necessary. However, they seem fairly content with the rules as they stand. We are all very excited about making our own little mark on the world of children’s literature. My students have very strong opinions about what makes a great kid’s book. Who am I to argue with them- they are the experts! They were shocked that some of their favorites, including Darren Shan’s “Cirque du Freak” series, Andrew Clements’ books, and “Tuck Everlasting” are not award-winners. It should be interesting to see what they choose at the end of the year. I will be sure to keep you all updated!

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6 Responses

  1. This is fantastic.

  2. I am an author of a middle grade novel who LOVES your idea. Publishing companies have slush piles of manuscripts they don’t have time to read. Why not give them to your kids.
    Well, maybe that won’t happen but one way that kids can make a difference is to post reviews on blogs, on Amazon and B&N.com for the books they love. Books are now marketed by the commercial world, by writing reviews kids can help to promote the books and authors they love. And maybe get a good grade for it to boot.
    Your post gets an A+ from me.

  3. What a terrific idea!
    -Susan

  4. I love this idea and am going to share it with all of the teachers I teach. I have seen kids get frustrated when books they have enjoyed don’t win any awards. This is a perfect solution. International Reading Association also has a kids choice award so make sure your students vote for this award. I am surprised Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of A Tree didn’t win something….it was one of my favorite 2007 books. deanna

  5. Thanks to everyone for the support! My students will begin nominating their books this week and in about a month we will begin to come up with a shortlist of titles. This will then allow the students to read a number of the nominated titles before we vote at the end of the year.

    I am still disappointed that Emma-Jean didn’t win anything!

  6. Please visit our class blog mellonsbay.blogspot.com

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