I enjoy anticipating the Youth Media Awards every year. I love to see if they honor my favorite books and to create a to-be-read list of unfamiliar titles.
I also enjoy getting in on the action, if you will, by participating in several Mock Awards. Happily, our youth collection development specialist organizes Mock Awards for our library system. And, while we work for a large system (Cuyahoga County Public Library), I believe anyone can do so.
Each year, those interested read for between one and three awards. Participating is voluntary and done on one’s own time. This year, we read for the “big” awards: Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz. In years past, we’ve also read for Coretta Scott King, Siebert, and other awards.
Throughout the year, our organizer blogs weekly on books that fit into the chosen categories. She also elicits responses and suggestions from staff members, who can mention books they have read and want to champion.
Every October interested staff members can nominate titles they feel should be on the Mock short lists. Then, in November, a list of 5-6 books per award are announced. These books are read by those who want to participate, and the winners and honored books are chosen from these titles.
Pre-COVID, we met in person at a restaurant that had a private dining room. However, the last two years we have held Zoom meetings for the Mock Awards, and the conversation continues to be lively and engaged.
For the discussions, we use the actual award criteria. (Find Caldecott here; Newbery here). We discuss each book—first what we liked about it and then any concerns. We then vote—and we mimic the voting procedures of the specific award. Most of the time, there is not a clear winner immediately, meaning that more discussion ensues.
Amazingly, this year Cuyahoga County Public Library’s live discussion elicited a Caldecott Winner in its first ballot: the late, great Floyd Cooper for Unspeakable: the Tulsa Race Massacre. That rarely happens. There have been years the restaurant closes on us while we are still debating. As for our Newbery winner…well, that was discussed the night before this posting going live, so as of this writing I don’t know what has won. Luckily, you can find out here, and I encourage you to submit your Mock Award results on this page as well.
If you missed holding a Mock Award event this year, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the next. CCPL’s fearless organizer of these events, Mary Schreiber, has graciously offered to answer any questions you might have. You can find her contact information with our results at the last link.
This post addresses the core competencies of IV. Knowledge, Curation and Management of Materials and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.