For the majority of the year, we've been focusing on a different author or illustrator each week. I choose someone, collect as many of their books as I can get my hands on, find out a little bit about their life and their books, and voila! Instant lesson. Many of the books have been Caldecott winners, and I've grilled the kids relentlessly about the relationship between the year a book is published and the year it wins the Caldecott (they've got it down, which thrilled me, especially when I asked them in front of the principal who was observing me for an evaluation).
For the final two weeks, I stole an idea from my brilliant mentor, Kay, back in Texas and did my own Caldecott panel.
I printed out a sheet with the titles and spaces for ratings and notes, gave each child one, and then, over the course of the last two weeks, we've read about a dozen picture books published in 2010.
After each book, I gave the kids a few minutes to rate the art, the storyline, and the way the art complemented the story and make any notes about things they liked or didn't like. At the end of the two weeks, they voted on their favorite, and I announced class winners as well as the overall school winner.
I read a bunch of reviews from The Horn Book Magazine and other sources to pick the books (and also just picked at random a few titles from the "New Books!" shelves at two local libraries). I wanted a good selection of genres and illustration styles, and I felt like the mix I ended up with did just that.
The books I used were:
- Henry in Love by Peter McCarty
- Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha and Nicole Tadgell
- Easy as Pie by Carie Best and Melissa Sweet
- The Boys by Jeff Newman
- The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers
- My Garden by Kevin Henkes
- An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers by Natasha Wing and Julia Breckenreid
- All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil F. Alexander
- Willow's Whispers by Lana Button and Tania Howells
- The Eraserheads by Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov
- Chester's Masterpiece by Melanie Watt
- The Pirate Cruncher by Jonny Duddle
To no one's surprise, of course, Chester's Masterpiece was the big winner. When I picked it off the shelf, I knew it would be.
It turned out extremely well, and I know the kids liked it too because when I pulled back out the clipboards and scorecards for the second week, every single class said, "Oh yay! We're doing this again!" I'd call that a success.