Sunday, November 6, 2011

Running a Mock Newbery Club

It's the time of year that people start talking about and making predictions for the upcoming book awards. At my school, we have just created our shortlist of five titles and students are furiously reading to be eligible to vote in our annual Mock Newbery Election. Our five titles are: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier.

From talking with other librarians, it sounds like there are a lot of different ways to run a Mock Newbery, but our club begins in September with a list of about 50 books that I have been compiling since January. From this list, students weed down the list to about 15 just by looking at summaries and book covers. Once we have the list of 15 books, we talk more in-depth about each title. We watch book trailers, read excerpts and listen to audio-book excerpts. We discuss the Newbery criteria and talk about the merits of each book and students vote for their top five. From this vote we get our list of contenders and students must read and write reviews for all five in order to vote in the final vote.

Last year our Mock Newbery winner was the book After Ever After and the author, Jordan Sonnenblick, visited our book club via skype for a mock awards ceremony. We even created a little awards seal that students solemnly placed onto the cover of our library copy. We had about 25 students eligible to vote in the final election last year and it even inspired a Mock Printz Club to form in the high school.

Here are a list of resources that I refer to frequently throughout the year:

Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog- run by Nina Lindsay and Jonathan Hunt, this blog is a wonderful and thorough resource for anyone who follows the youth media awards.

Goodreads Mock Newbery Group- a Goodreads group where readers can discuss eligibility and make predictions.

A Fuse #8 Production- Betsy Bird also served on the Newbery Committee and offers great insight into potential titles. Her predictions have been uncannily spot on!

Newbery and Caldecott Mock Elections Tool Kit- I have an older edition of this, but I am looking forward to taking a look at the newly released toolkit.

The HVLA Listerv- when I first decided to try to run a Mock Newbery Club, I emailed our listserv and got some great ideas from colleagues in terms of creating a structure and process for the club.

This post was brought to you by HVLA Treasurer, Rachael Myers.

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