Awards & Scholarships

Newbery and Caldecott Mock Elections Toolkit

For some people, autumn might be all about football or the first day of school o leaves changing color…but in the children’s book world, it’s Mock Awards Season! As the Newbery, Caldecott, and all the other Committees carry out their highly confidential tasks of selecting distinguished books, the rest of us wonder just what they’re thinking…and sometimes try to duplicate it with Mock Award events.

Mock Awards programs are a long-time tradition. For decades, teachers, librarians, and other children’s literature experts have worked with kids and adults, in-person and online, in a few hours or over weeks or months, reading, discussing, and finally voting on some of the year’s best books. To help organizers develop effective programs, ALSC published the first Newbery & Caldecott Mock Election Kit, written by Kathleen Staerkel, Nancy Hackett, and Linda Ward Callaghan in 1994. A revised edition came out in 2001, and I just finished a new revision. The 2011 edition of the Newbery and Caldecott Mock Elections Tool Kit has been revised and updated and is now available in ebook form through the ALA Store.

My first chance to participate in a Mock Elections program was way back in 1994, when Ellen Fader and Steve Armitage hosted a Mock Caldecott for the Oregon Library Association. The winning book? The group selected All the Places to Love by Patricia Maclahlan, illustrated by Mike Wimmer. I don’t remember how the actual Medal winner fared (Smoky Night by Eve Bunting and David Diaz). Since then I’ve taken part in and presented a bunch of mock events for the Oregon Library Association and worked with many groups at schools and in libraries. Right now I’m working on a Mock Newbery event for fifth graders and one for librarians; I have to decide pretty quickly which books from the current year to include, which is always one of the toughest tasks…there are too many good books!

In conjunction with this publication, I’m hosting a webinar on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 from 7:00 — 8:00 pm (Central Time). In this one hour session we’ll look at the nuts and bolts and program goals of organizing a Mock Election. I’ll share some of the most effective ways to share information about awards criteria, using examples than include a three-time Newbery Honor winner and a pigeon who wants to break a rule. You’ll also see useful examples of how to model book evaluation techniques with a group, featuring such worthy figures as Grandma Dowdel and Stanly Yelnats. I’ll even share my top three all-time choices for demonstrating the complexities picturebook illustration with children and adults with art discussion anxieties.

For more information about the Newbery and Caldecott Mock Elections webinar on , including information about the digital download/webinar discount, please check the ALSC online education site,

Steven Engelfried is the Youth Services Librarian for the Wilsonville Public Library, located in Wilsonville, Oregon. Steven can be emailed at

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