Teaching About the Caldecott Medal - Part One

Caldecott Medal free reading graphic organizer worksheet printable

What is the Caldecott Medal?

The Caldecott is an award that is given to a "distinguished American picture book for children published by an American publisher in the United States in English during the preceding year." It is given annually by the American Library Association as part of their Youth Media Awards. If you go to the ALA's website you can read all the criteria and guidelines used for selecting the winner. Here they are in a nutshell:
  • It has to be a picture book written for children
  • It has to have been published in the United States by an American citizen
  • It has to have distinct illustrations that are marked by excellence in quality

Introducing the Caldecott to students - PowerPoint Introduction

Very important: The first thing you want to do is pull all of the Caldecott and Honor books in your library. You will need these books as you go through your lessons. And once you begin talking about them with students, they will all want to check them out.

I begin by telling students that they will be learning about a special award given to picture books. It is an award given to a book with really awesome illustrations. That may be oversimplifying it a little bit, but that is how I begin. I then will go into more detail about how a book is selected. This is when I put up the PowerPoint presentation I created about the Caldecott. I will also explain about the Honor books. The Honor books are ones that came in second and third place. No more than 5 Honor Awards will be given out.


Next I will list some books that have won the award, specifically ones that I think the students will know. This helps give the students some context as they begin to think about these books and their illustrations. These include: The Polar Express, Where the Wild Things Are, Officer Buckle and Gloria, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Creepy Carrots. Typically by this point in the lesson I am out of time. Depending on the class I might put some of the Caldecott books out on a couple tables for the students to look through for the rest of their library time.


Introducing the Caldecott to students - Looking at past winners

The second day is when I let students look at all of the Caldecott books that I have pulled and begin to think about why these books were chosen. I feel it's important that the students have the chance to look through as many books as possible. This allows them a chance to see different types of illustrations and how the illustrations have changed over the years.

I begin by putting several books out on the tables in the library. When students come in I have them each find a seat and explain the activity. They will be given time to look through the books and choose one that they really like. Then they will fill out the graphic organizer about the book.

Caldecott Medal free graphic organizer printable worksheet

I put the organizer up on the SmartBoard for them to see as I go over it. There are six different questions they will need to answer based on the book they chose. These are yes/no questions. I made simple so more students in different grades would be able to fill it out. As an extension, you can have students write more detail about why they answered one of the questions or draw a picture from the book. This is an easy way to differentiate, especially if you use it with students in older grades.

After the students have had time to fill out their sheet we will take some time to go over their answers. Another idea that I have used before is to give multiple copies of the same book to students. For example (2 tables have Owl Moon and 2 tables have Last Stop on Market Street). There are a couple reasons for doing this. One, if you need students to work together for some reason this makes it easier to do that. And it saves on time. It is quicker to go over the graphic organizers if the same 2 books were used and students won't get as distracted as they work (wanting to look at everyone else's book).

**This graphic organizer is available for free. You can download it by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post.

Introducing the Caldecott to students - Book Activities

After I have completed the first two lessons, I spend the next few weeks reading individual books and then doing a companion activity. You can spend as much or as little time on this as you would like. In my Caldecott Activity Pack I have included several worksheets and graphic organizers to go along with some of the past winners. You can use these or come up with your own activities. I also have a pinterest board of activities to go along with different Caldecott books. 

You can find my Caldecott Medal PowerPoint and Activities in my TpT store and on my website. 

If you want to read about my predictions for the 2019 Caldecott Medal click here.

 Free Caldecott Medal activity page

 Caldecott Medal PowerPoint and Activities

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