In my career as a librarian, I have spent several January mornings in huge convention halls awaiting the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual Youth Media Awards, where Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Schneider, and other literary awards are announced. Librarians, teachers, authors, and illustrators all wait with bated breath to discover the titles of the award-winning books, audiobooks, and literary movies that they’ll be recommending to children and teens for years to come.
The Newbery Award is given to authors that make the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children. The selected books deliver beautiful messages about friends, family, and society: life. The Newbery books challenge students to venture outside of their usual genres to meet characters who are asking hard questions to address difficult topics. The genius in these books is that, lofty subject matter aside, they are completely age appropriate and captivating to young readers.
Newbery and Caldecott books at CA
Colorado Academy’s Fourth Grade teachers anticipate the announcement of each year’s award winners with great excitement, because when the titles are named, a new unit of study begins, and Fourth Graders dive into the award-winning Newbery and Caldecott books.
As this new book-focused unit begins, our teachers and librarians work together to guide students in selecting Newbery books that will meet their needs as readers while providing thought-provoking and engaging stories. Each Fourth Grader reads one Newbery Award-winning book and gives an oral report on it to the class with a homemade 3-D interactive poster that illustrates the chapter book story.
This unit also asks Fourth Graders to read as many Caldecott Award-winning books as possible and to create an illustration from a selected Caldecott book on a puzzle that they can then share with friends and their younger buddies. The Caldecott Award is given to the artists of the most distinguished picture books for children, and this project helps them learn about the important relationship between words and art in picture books and how those two elements rely on one another to tell a story, and tell it well.
By sharing their Newbery reads and Caldecott puzzles with their classmates, they encourage and inspire others to read the same books, cultivating the already healthy reading community and energizing everyone to read more!
Colorado Children’s Book Award at CA
One of the more interactive awards is the Colorado Children’s Book Award (CCBA). Students from all over Colorado nominate ten favorite picture books and ten favorite chapter books as contenders for the CCBA each year. Then, students from all over the state read the nominated titles and vote for their favorites. All CA Lower School students are currently reading the picture books nominated for 2019, and Fourth and Fifth Graders are reading the nominated chapter books. Pre-K through Fifth Grade students take their roles in the annual CCBA process very seriously and are careful about their selections when voting (in the LS Library’s official voting booth) in this statewide program. At the end, we celebrate the books that win at CA, and we celebrate the books that win statewide.
‘Reading is everywhere’
Reading is everywhere in our Lower School. We encourage all of our students to develop an early love for reading, because we know the treasures that can be unlocked in a good book. Children’s novels are doors into other worlds and also mirrors that reflect our lives back to us. They introduce children to new people, places, and experiences and give children new perspectives on things that are already familiar to them. Reading, therefore, is one of the most important things that children can do to expand and enrich their imaginations and deepen their understanding of the world. I feel so fortunate to spend my days in a community that is so devoted to reading and engaging with literature as a community. As a librarian, it gives me great joy to see our LS students regularly visit the library to check out both books and audiobooks, not just for class, but for pleasure.
Here is a sampling of the ALA’s other Youth Media Award winners:
Schneider Family Award: books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience for children and teens
Geisel Award: books written for beginning readers
Sibert Medal: most outstanding informational books for children
Coretta Scott King Awards: outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and teens
Pura Belpré Medal: works by Latino or Latina authors and illustrators which portray and celebrate the Latino cultural experience