Now that we know the winners of the ALA Youth Media Awards, I wanted to talk about what worked and what didn’t for the Caldecott book club program we tried over the month of January at my library. You can read weekly wrap ups of the program here.
Here’s how it worked: We had a book club every Thursday afternoon in January (4 total) where we read 4 different contenders. The attendees voted on their favorite books. Then we put the books out on display and allowed all library patrons to vote on their favorites for the week. Before the next book club, we counted the votes and picked the finalist for the week. The last week (in theory–more on that later), we put out the finalists from the last weeks of voting and our winner was selected from those. The winners were selected by having the most votes–we didn’t have patrons rank the books from 1-4 and give different points values based on those rankings. As I talked about here, our mock Caldecott winner was the winner of the actual Caldecott: The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat. That was super exciting and unexpected.
- The passive portion of the program. This was incredibly fun to watch. Patrons loved coming in and reading the books and voting on them. It wasn’t unusual to see families reading them together, talking about them, discussing their relative merits–so cool!
- Reading the books in the book club with the kids. This was so eye-opening for me. Most of the books we chose are too long for regular storytime, so it was really fun to be able to read longer books with older kids. Seeing how they reacted to the books was fascinating–I learned that wordless books didn’t seem to grab them in the way that more traditional picture books did (of course, it was a really small group, so an obviously limited sample size). But just seeing what they loved and what they were less interested in changed my own personal opinion about a lot of these books.
- Picking a good combination of books every week. We tried to have at least one wordless book, a nonfiction book, and a traditional picture book every week. The mix was nice and exposed our patrons to a lot of different books over the course of the program.
What didn’t work/what I would change next year:
- The book club portion of the program. I’m bummed to say this, because I was so excited about the book club piece, but it just didn’t work for us. Our turnout was really low. The kids that came seemed to really enjoy it, but attendance never grew. For next year, unless we find a time that works better for school aged programming, we will probably just keep it as a passive program.
- It should be a 5 week program. Had we had bigger turnout at the book club, this might not have been a big deal, but we ended up having to smoosh everything together at the end–we only had a few days of voting for our actual Caldecott winner. Ideally, we would have 4 weeks with 4 books each, and then the last week would be voting on the 4 finalists.
- Longer books in the book club. We were a bit limited on what we could read in the book club, because longer books just made everyone zone out, even if they were great. This will be a bonus to doing the program as passive only next year–it will allow us to choose longer books with no worries about the attention span of the book club.
Overall, I was really happy with trying a mock Caldecott at our library this year. It got our community talking and excited about the award. It led to great conversations with our patrons and staff about the books that were being buzzed about on social media. It was fun! If you’re thinking of doing one at your library next year–go for it! Especially if you do it as a passive program, it is an easy, relatively low planning event that your patrons will love. If you do a mock Caldecott program at your library, share what worked and what didn’t in the comments!