Last week at Princeton Junior School, we launched our first PJS Mock Caldecott Awards. The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in the United States during the preceding year.
For the first time, Preschool - Grade 5 students will serve on the Princeton Junior School Mock Caldecott Committee to choose an award winner from 8 possible picture books. Each student in received a Mock Caldecott Committee Manual containing child-friendly criteria, a place to jot down notes about each book to be used in subsequent conversations with fellow committee members, and a brief description of the elements of art and principles of design.
While we know that there will be much excitement and joy around the reading of these books, there is a deeper context of this shared, transdisciplinary schoolwide study. As we attempt to choose the most distinguished American picture book published in 2017, we are inquiring into:
- criteria for winning a Caldecott (What is a "distinguished" picture book?)
- how elements of art and design principles are used in picture books (form)
- how art and text work interdependently to tell a story that goes beyond what words and art alone can convey (function)
- how illustrations influence the reader (reflection)
- considering and valuing the different viewpoints of a range of readers (perspective)
Through this inquiry, children will develop and strengthen a variety of skills that can be applied in other learning experiences:
- Communication skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, presenting)
- Thinking skills (evaluation, analysis, synthesis)
- Social skills (accepting responsibility, cooperation, respecting others)
Not only will children know what an award-winning Caldecott book looks and sounds like, but they will also gain experience participating in a lively conversation around books that is respectful of a range of perspectives. They will feel more confident as they use text evidence to support a claim, and they will be able to articulate how text and illustrations support and enhance one another. These are skills and strategies that children will be able to apply to their own reading beyond this inquiry.
In addition to reading books in Windows to the World, children will be reading with classroom teachers and in the art room with Mrs. Molinelli. Reading these 8 picture books with different teachers and through different lenses will add a richness and depth to the conversation.
Parents are invited to join this inquiry and extend the reading and discussion at home. The Mock Caldecott Committee Manual is available on the Parent Portal for parents to download. Ballots will be cast in early February prior to the PJS Book Fair which will be held in the PJS Commons 2/22-2/23.