Blogger Public Awareness Committee

Hosting Your Own Mock Youth Media Award

Books I’m considering for my 2020 Mock Caldecott

This is the time of year when speculation on which books might take the win for our Youth Media Awards begins.  My first encounter with a mock anything took place my first December working as a children’s librarian when my library system hosted a mock Caldecott and Newbery during a day long training for all youth services staff.  Ever since then I have been hooked. I love hearing other people’s opinions on the books we look over using the lens of the different awards’ criteria. 

Three years ago I decided that I wanted to try a “Predicting the Caldecott Winner” program for the families at my public library.  I’ve done one every year since with a few changes each year as I see what works and what doesn’t. Opening up these types of programs to the public has been very rewarding.  Parents and caregivers get a chance to look over fantastic books that might not have made it into their check out stacks before. Children get a chance to express what they like about the artwork and find out what materials were used to create them.  Adults and children both love hearing about the work the committee does and how the books are selected.  

While it may seem daunting to select which titles to include when conducting a mock for the public or other professionals, there are plenty of online resources that can help you in your search.  Jen J’s Booksheets is a great place to start.  This website keeps track of all the starred reviews books get each year, and her spreadsheet puts them in order of most to least starred reviews earned.  If you are using this list for a mock Caldecott or Newbery you will have to do some light research to see if the author or illustrator is eligible for the award by being a United States citizen or living in the United States when the book was created.  Calling Caldecott and Heavy Medal are other great resources for finding ideas about which books to include in your lists.  If you would like to try a mock Corretta Scott King, The Brown Bookshelf is a great website to find authors, illustrators, and titles that would qualify for that award.  If you would like to try a mock Pura Belpre, then Latinxs in Kid Lit is a wonderful place to start.  

During your mocks you will want the committee guidelines handy to help steer the conversations.  Here are some links to help:

Once your mock is completed don’t forget to submit your results on the ALSC blog here so everyone can see what your co-workers or community members selected!  Be sure to look at all the other mock results here.


This post addresses the ALSC Core Competencies III. Programming Skills and IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials. 


Melissa Sokol is a Children’s Services Librarian for Dayton Metro Libraries and is posting on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee. You can email her at msokol@daytonmetrolibrary.org

3 comments

  1. Amy Seto Forrester

    I’d like to put in a plug to do a mock Geisel. It’s great one to do with kids (K-2nd) because the award is so much about their success reading it, plus the books are short and generally easy to get your hands on even at the last minute. 🙂

  2. Carol Simon Levin

    Melissa, Thanks for sharing this and the link to Jen J’s spreadsheets – handy! I’ve done Mock Caldecotts for many years both in public libraries and in school classrooms.
    My procedure:
    Set up the room with space in front of the librarian for kids to sit and place approximately 25 Caldecott Candidate books on tables around the room.
    Before the program, insert bookmarks pre-printed with a column of numbers into each book. The numbered column makes figuring out how many votes a book got easier. Write the first word of the title on each bookmark, both so that if it falls out you’ll know where it came from and also to be able to do final tallies later.
    Have kids sit on floor in front of the librarian & ask what the Caldecott Award is for; get a definition of illustrator. (5 min.)
    Show some winner(s) and honor books from past year(s); leaf through pictures; ask kids to help figure out what made the illustrations “exceptional/distinctive.” Share some of the comments made the ALA Caldecott Committee in their press releases justifying their choices (available on the ALA Caldecott site): http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottmedal
    Mention that the Caldecott Committee (librarians) decide in secret – no one knows for sure which books are their finalists… the books on the tables are a best guess — favorites mentioned by librarians all over the country.(2 min.)
    Explain the idea of “mock” election. The kids will have 10 minutes to examine the 25 candidates looking at what makes their illustrations special — keeping in mind that they may chose 5 favorites — when they have looked through all 25, have them come up to get a pencil and then go mark their initials (or first name) on the bookmarks of their 5 favorites. (10 min.)
    Collect the books, have an assistant sort them by number of votes, and read aloud those with the most votes (for longer picture books, read aloud a section and booktalk the rest.) (20-30 min.) Ask for kid’s brief reaction to pictures after each book.
    Finally, stand the semi-finalist books (the ones read aloud) on tables around the room and ask the kids to stand by the book that they think should be the Caldecott Winner. We then eliminate those books that only have a couple of votes and have those students move to their favorite remaining title so that everyone has the satisfaction of having a title that is eventually a winner or honor. When there are 3-5 books remaining, count the students for each to determine winner & honor books. (5 min.)
    Tell the kids and teachers when the real award winners will be announced.
    http://carolsimonlevin.blogspot.com/2015/01/mock-caldecott-committee-be-judge.html

  3. Elizabeth Serrano

    Anyone interested in submitting their mock elections results to the ALSC Blog can do so by visiting the 2020 Mock Elections page: https://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/2019/12/hosting-your-own-mock-youth-media-award/.

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