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Mock Caldecott 2014: What I Learned Last Year Edition

Our 2013 Mock Caldecott went well (click here for Mock Caldecott 2013: The Set-Up), but there are a few changes we’re making for 2014 that I want to share.

Aside: One thing you’ll notice I’m not sharing is my list of mock Caldecott books this time out. Since I’m on the committee this year, it seems wise to keep that list private. However, great blogs like Calling Caldecott, A Fuse #8 Production, and Watch. Connect. Read. have shared books they think are strong contenders, and all three are great resources to use in building the book list for your school.

So what’s different this year?

Change #1: Grade Levels

For reasons I mentioned in the 2013 post, last year we only did the mock Caldecott process with 2nd graders. This year, we’re opening it up to K-4. Depending on how things go, we may adjust that again next year.

Change #2: Library vs. Classroom Read Alouds

Last year I circulated our mock Caldecott books to classroom teachers, who read and scored them with their students. This year, I have the ability to run the mock Caldecott through the library, as I now meet with every class each week. While this may lead to a more consistent process, I worry that teachers might feel left out. Due to this, I’m cooking up a Teacher Mock Caldecott, where staff will pick their favorites.

Change #3: Rating System

Last year we had students rate each book on a scale of 1-5 for story and 1-5 for illustrations. This year, we are simplifying further and going with a scale of 1-3. The reason? It seemed like we were getting a lot of 1s and 5s last year, and hardly anyone was going with a 2 or 4. So changing to a 1-3 made sense. Also, since we are including younger students, the simplification seems appropriate. Since the Caldecott is an award for illustration, I give twice as much weight to that score when I add everything up at the end.

Change #4: Comparison

This year we will always read two books back to back and then score them. This gives students with an opportunity to compare two books. One difficulty in the mock Caldecott process is that sometimes students give high marks to every book. I’m hoping that when we read two books, students can think more critically about likes and dislikes, possibly resulting in some less than 3 scores.

Change #5: Upper Elementary

We are giving grades 3 and 4 scoring sheets for them to keep (actually, I will keep them in the library) through the whole process. The hope here is that it will build ownership and anticipation, as students can see all 16 books together. We’re also hoping it will mean more in-depth analysis of the books, as it will give students the opportunity to change their scores as we read more of the books and they make comparisons.

Are you conducting a mock Caldecott this year? Any other tips to share?

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Sounds great, Travis! You’re making me envious of school librarians who have the same kids for a long-term program like that.

    So I’m curious: Will you reveal your favorites to your school in the form of the Mock Caldecott ballot? I know that doesn’t mean they are the committee’s favorites….

  2. I did this last year with my 2nd graders and we loved it. Z is for Moose won for us, but This is not my hat and Extra Yan were honors so we felt pretty good. I’m in first grade this year and I’m hesitant to try it with them, but your post is making me reconsider. Love the mock Caldecott!

  3. Just curious how many copies of each book you purchase, and how that is funded? Thanks!

  4. Thank you for sharing your updated plans! I used some of your ideas and suggested titles last year in my fifth grade classroom, and tied the Mock Caldecott to opinion writing. Each student chose a book to urge the committee (made up of his/her classmates) to vote for or against. They developed strong opinions and delivered speeches that sparked lively debate. Here is a link to read more about it and see student work: http://sweeneybarhbr.blogspot.com/2013/12/opinion-writing-mock-caldecott.html