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Mock Caldecott 2018


While some folks do NaNoWriMo in November, at my K-4 elementary school we prefer MoCal – which is a cool abbreviation for Mock Caldecott.

We’ve fine tuned it over the years, and this is the system that’s been working.

Part 1

  • Introduce Caldecott Medal/Honor. Explain that it is an award for illustrations. I would encourage you to fight your librarian tendencies to make it super formal. I’ve found formality can take the fun out of it.
  • Explain that we will read some books that might win this year and vote for our favorite. They call this a Mock Caldecott
  • Watch the announcement from last year.
  • Read/discuss a previous winner or a new contender (for previous winners, I like This Is Not My Hat – kids love it and the illustrations make for good discussion). Discuss (in very basic terms) the Caldecott criteria.

Part 2

  • Read/discuss two Caldecott contenders each week, and have students vote for which one they think is stronger. Reading two back to back is nice because students can make a comparison. These days I have an informal show of hands vote for the favorite of that week, but we’ve also done an online vote via Google Forms – that’s fun too.

Part 3

  • After reviewing the basic Caldecott criteria, students vote for the book they think is most deserving of Caldecott. We use a ballot with pictures of all of the books. Students circle their top pick.

Part 4

  • Tally the votes time. The book with the most votes wins our Mock Caldecott Medal. The next highest group of vote getters receives Caldecott Honors. I announce the winners to each class.
  • When the official Caldecott winners are announced, I watch the webcast with students. This part is so fun, especially if one of their picks end up with an award.

Here are the books we’ll be reading and discussing for our 2018 Mock Caldecott:

How do you Mock Caldecott? Leave advice in the comments.

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. Colby Sharp says


  2. After the Fall. All Day. Everyday.

  3. Amanda McCoy says

    Thanks for sharing your methods, Travis! You’re one of the big reasons I started a Mock Caldecott. At the end of our unit, we vote on a very large poster in a main hallway displaying each of the book covers. Each grade has a different colored sticker that they place around the border of the book that gets their vote. Teachers have a different color as well. We award the top pick in each grade and the top overall pick.

  4. How do you choose the books you use for your MoCal?
    After explaining the Caldecott award and looking at the variety of art mediums used in previous winners, I do a MoCal w/my second graders…we start with 20 books…that get weeded down to 10 very informally. (Each table group starts with 4 books & comes to an agreement on their top two).
    Those 10 remaining books get looked at by different table groups who come to an agreement on their top choice.
    This leaves us with five books that we look at as a whole class and vote individually by secret ballot to determine a final winner… which we dub our Circlecott winner (school district is called Circle).
    The winning book from each class displays a special award ribbon on it for the remainder of the year.

  5. Thanks for sharing this. As a resource teacher, I see groups of students once each week, so I really like the “two at a time” idea.

  6. I would love to know how you word the criteria in kid speak! Thank you for sharing all this– sounds great!

  7. Margaret Boling Mullin, PhD says

    Thanks to all in this group who influenced my thinking as I narrowed my choices for the #MockCaldedecott2018 activities that I’ll be doing with my elementary students at College Park Elementary in Indianapolis. I read all the books suggested here (though I didn’t comment on most). I also read the lists from John Schumacher, Colby Sharp, and the SLJ Scope 100 blog. I kept my school demographics in mind (90% African American, African, Hispanic, & Asian). Many of my choices were mentioned on 4-5 other lists and all showed up in at least one other spot. Of course, just today, I found others (which were released late in the year) that I won’t end up including. Here’s the list of 18 books that I’ll share with my students:
    Out of Wonder; Kwame Alexander & Chris Colderley; Ekua Holmes
    Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut; Derick Barnes; Gordon C. James
    The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse; Mac Barnett; Jon Klassen
    Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos; Monica Brown; John Parra
    Grand Canyon; Jason Chin
    Dad and the Dinosaur; Gennifer Choldenko; Dan Santat
    Wolf in the Snow; Matthew Cordell
    Jabari Jumps; Gaia Cornwall
    All the Way to Havana; Margarita Engle; Mike Currato
    Little Fox in the Forest; Stephanie Graegin
    Egg; Kevin Henkes
    The Book of Mistakes; Corinna Luyken
    Muddy The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters; Michael Mahin; Evan Turk
    Blue Sky White Stars; Sarvinder Naberhaus; Kadir Nelson
    Claymates; Dev Petty; Lauren Eldridge
    After the Fall; Dan Santat
    The Antlered Ship; Dashka Slater; The Fan Brothers
    A Perfect Day; Lane Smith