There is always excitement in the Colorado Academy Lower School when the American Library Association (ALA) announces the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery, Printz and other awards at its midwinter meeting. These awards, says CA teacher Suzanne Kolsun Jackson, are the, “Oscars of the children’s book world.” CA fourth graders read a number of the award-winning titles, and each year, explore the new winners.
Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the awards guide parents, educators, librarians, and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media.
Among some of the fourth graders’ frequent reads are Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater, The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.
Students then use these works as examples of great books and go on to capture in their own artwork something that is meaningful to them about the literature. Kolsun Jackson says whether it is expanding students’ vocabulary, having students take part in reading groups, or having them study the different media used to illustrate picture books, the awards help to underscore what author Maya Angelou once said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”