BLOGS  >  FEBRUARY 11, 2019

Students Rank #ClassroomBookADay Titles (3 of 3)


My first and second posts are here and here, respectively. For my third and final post in this series, I’ll share the students’ analysis process, how they voted and how they defended their selections. 

We’re knee-deep in #ClassroomBookADay with over 100 books read. Our #MockCaldecott unit is also completed, with 13 picture books analyzed against the Caldecott criteria and ranked by individual students. The winners chosen by individuals and the class.

Having read all 13 contenders throughout the past few months during our #ClassroomBookADay time, the kids were ready to choose. The one thing I had to share with them again was that this was not about their favorite book. This was about the book of in which the illustration best represented the Caldecott criteria that they were ranking and selecting.

The students analyzed all 13 books, and ranked each book’s illustrations based on how they met each of the five Caldecott criteria on a 1-4 scale (4 being highest, 1 being lowest). Each book had the possibility of a 20 point maximum score.

After the kids had all the illustrations ranked on a score out of 20, it was time to order them. This was very simple. On a document (shared here), they listed their 13 books, with the highest scored being their Caldecott “Medalist,” and second, third and fourth place receiving “honors.” Finally, I totaled up the scores to find our “Class Medalist” and “Class Honors.” Here they are:

Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Blue narrowly won our #MockCaldecott Medal, scoring a total of 37 points, over Yuyi Morales’ Dreamers coming in at 36. Drawn Together, illustrated by Dan Santat was third, and Arree Chung’s Mixed rounded out the honors list.

For the final part of our #MockCaldecott unit, students had to defend their choices in writing. Each student chose one of their top four (winner or honor) and wrote about why they thought their choice most exemplified the Caldecott criteria. Their reasons are chosen from the 5 Caldecott criteria, and supporting evidence comes from their analysis of our batch of 13 books.

The students’ choices became especially important to them when they realized that only one of our 13, Juana Martinez-Neal’s Alma and How She Got Her Name, was among the four books chosen by the 2019 Caldecott committee at the ALA Youth Media Awards. They were passionate in their choices throughout the analysis process, and that passion grew to a need to defend their choices because the 2019 Caldecott Medal winner was not among our batch of 13. The kids never wavered. One actually asked me why kids weren’t on the Caldecott committee if the committee’s job was to choose from children’s books. What a great question! 

As I wrap this blog series, the students are hard at work defending their choices through literary essays. Our #ClassroomBookADay/#MockCaldecott mashup has covered so many standards that I’ve lost count. Fifth graders have worked through reading analysis, comparing and contrasting story elements and themes through illustrations, speaking and listening, and writing a claim and supporting it with reasons and evidence. They now notice so much more in our daily #classroombookaday read alouds – especially how art can support and elevate narrative and informational text. That is how I know this challenge was worth undertaking and that this experience has grown and enriched the literary lives of my students.

As their teacher, I have learned much during this unit. Their analysis was deeper and more astute because I had started using the terms and done some minor analysis modeling throughout the year during #ClassroomBookADay. But I also noticed that the defending of their analyses in writing remains much more of a challenge for my students than oral discussions. Next year, I might model and then make time to have them defend their claims, reasons and evidence orally with their literacy partner before they start writing.

Although two of our class #MockCaldecott honors won in other YMA categories (Drawn Together was honored with an Asian/Pacific American award for “books about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage” and Dreamers won the Pura Belpré Award, given to a “Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth”), they were not among the Caldecott honorees. While I feel strongly that a win in another category or from another organization should not preclude a deserving illustrator from a Caldecott honor, I do have more to learn about these other categories and organizations and their effect on the Caldecott committee’s selection process.

When I polled my colleagues, all four said they’d definitely participate in a #MockCaldecott unit again. They found it just as engaging and rewarding for their students as I did. I hope this blog series has inspired teachers who might be thinking about growing their #ClassroomBookADay into something more!

See all the Caldecott award winners and honorees now. 

Fifth Grade Teacher, Lisle IL   

Lorie Barber is a fifth grade elementary educator who highlights cultural identity, empathy, and compassion in her classroom. Lorie has been an educator for nine years, the last six of which have been with her fifth grade students in Lisle, IL.  Lorie’s main goal is always to help her students cultivate a lifelong love of reading. This is her second year implementing Jillian Heise’s #ClassroomBookADay after experiencing an overwhelmingly positive response from her students the previous year. Lorie is a voracious reader, a proud member of #bookexpedition, and has blogged for Nerdy Book Club. She tweets from @barberchicago and writes at

Read my three-part series on #MockCaldecott as part of #ClassroomBookADay 
1. Let Your Students Choose the Winners
2. Shifting to Illustrations and Prepping for #MockCaldecott
3. Students Rank #classroombookaday Titles

See #ClassroomBookADay blogs here written by our contributing classroom teachers. 

Follow Follett Learning's Pinterest board for great resources on the titles featured.

Check out the #ClassroomBookADay book lists


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