I didn’t get a sudden inspiration to start doing a Mock Newbery. I received an internship at St Joseph County Public Library under Kris Springer. Kris is the Manager of Children’s Services and had run a Mock Newbery club for several years. She was on the actual Newbery committee and used her knowledge and love of books to start her club. Being a school librarian, I was fascinated.
After stealing all of Kris’ ideas, I went back to school/work (that’s what I call it) and badgered the Language Arts teachers into joining a Mock Newbery Club with me. I promised them they would be children’s lit gurus when the club was over. Suckers.
I chose 12 books off the list of 76 I’d helped Kris compile for her student Mock Newbery Club. The teachers had to read 2 or 3 books per month and fill out one of those Mock sheets before they came to the meeting. I tell you, teachers can be boring! But, they quickly stopped thinking about how they could use the book for some sort of lesson and started to get into just bringing students some fun, awesome reads. Conversations were heated and fast-paced. We bought lots of new books for students including When The Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton. We were able to Skype with Fran and she was fascinating. We still use that book in 7th Grade.
After volunteering in the Children’s Department another year, I decided I was finally ready to start my own student Mock Newbery Club. Oh Boy!
I spent the summer helping Kris compile the most fantabulous list of books! We looked at starred reviews, big name authors, twitter, blogs, all those places where they talk books. We argued, read, argued and read until we got that list down and picked the top 18 books for students to focus on. Kris and I used most of the same books but I changed a couple of titles. Kris and I also started a blog which we modeled after the ACPL Mock Newbery.
I announced my student Mock Newbery club on our in-school news broadcast and told interested students to stop by and sign up in the library. I’d set up a google form and had it bookmarked on library computers. I ended up with over 20 students!! Our meeting dates were Friday mornings at 7:45AM!!! And they showed up! And they argued and we learned the difference between popular and distinguished and we had so much fun. They were told to read at least 3 books a month and come prepared to discuss. Our final two meetings were INTENSE! Our final book was The Cardturner by Louis Sachar.
I was able to get permission from teachers that students could be dismissed to watch the real Newbery award ceremony with me. Unfortunately, our school system BLOCKED the broadcast but we could get on Facebook and Twitter! With continuous updates we found out that a book we had not read won The ALA Newbery. We read and determinedly hated that book on principle alone. Just kidding, sort of.
Anyway, I look forward to working with Kris again this year. Who knows what I might be able to steal learn.
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