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.