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Class Book Awards: Bring the Red Carpet to Your Classroom!

By Beth Newingham on February 17, 2010

A successful reading workshop is one in which students are truly excited about reading and are constantly building relationships with books and with fellow readers based on common book choices and reading interests. It can be easy to get so caught up in the curriculum that you forget to make time for activities that truly enhance and strengthen the reading community in your classroom. Class Book Awards are a great way to bring readers of all levels and abilities together to celebrate books. With awards season in full swing, what better time than now to allow your students to start nominating their favorite books and bestowing upon them prestigious awards that will remain with those books long after the students leave your classroom?


READ ON to learn more about how students nominate books in different categories, vote for their favorite books using private ballots, take part in an awards ceremony to announce the winners, and creatively display the winning books in the classroom.

1. Explore Well-Known Book Awards

Newbery_medal CaldecottBefore students begin developing book award categories and nominating books from your classroom library, they must first study the selection criteria used by notable book awards such as the Caldecott Medal and the Newbery Medal. I often use this time to read aloud award-winning books and create a display of award-winning books in the classroom. Students may choose books featured in the display to put in their book boxes for individualized daily reading. My guided reading groups are often reading award-winning books at this time as well so that students are truly immersed in this prized literature. 

Scholastic has lesson plans for teaching with Caldecott MedalNewbery Medal, and Coretta Scott King Award Winners. You may also use lists of recent CaldecottNewbery, and Coretta Scott King Award winning books in teaching about these awards. Trade book sets of the Newbery Award winnersCaldecott Award winners, and the Coretta Scott King winners, as well as professional books on the subject are available from the Scholastic Teacher Store.

2. Choose a Unique Name for Your Class Book Awards

Newibery boardEach book award students will be studying prior to the activity has a unique name that represents the award.  You will want to choose a special name for your own class book awards. Since most book awards are named after a person, I used to call my class book awards "Newibery" awards since my last name is Newingham. However, since I have begun sharing my class with another teacher, we have given the awards a title that is related to our year-long class theme (e.g., Planet 13 Book Awards for our planet theme and Captain's Choice Book Awards for our nautical theme).

 

3. Introduce Sample Book Award Categories

To kick off this year-long activity, I choose five book award categories (best illustrations, most unpredictable plot, favorite fiction series, etc.) and pick my own favorite books as the first Class Book Award winners of the school year. Once you have done this for multiple years, you can have the winning books from the previous year serve as your examples. Students have usually seen awards shows on TV, and they know that the actors, actresses, and musicians are given awards in multiple categories such as "Best Actress," "Best Movie," and "Song of the Year." We also discuss how awards are given in different genres like "Best Country Album," "Best Comedy," or "Best Actor in a Drama." I explain how this concept will lend itself to nominating favorite books in different categories throughout the school year.

 

4. Students Determine Their Own Book Award Categories

Scary Once my students understand how this will work in our classroom, they create their own book award categories. Every other month, students suggest new categories. I write down all of the students' ideas, and they vote on the categories they like best.  Each student can vote for three categories, and the five categories with the most votes become the final categories in which students will nominate books for that period of time. I do try to get students to connect the learning we are doing in reading workshop to the categories they choose. For instance, when we studied poetry last year, a category was "Poem with the Best Alliteration."  When doing an in-depth character study, a book award category was "Character Who Changes the Most in a Book."  When studying the mystery genre, students voted on a "Mystery With the Most Surprising Ending" category.  The more specific the category, the more students really put effort into reading and nominating books that truly fit the bill!

 

 

5. Nominate Books From the Classroom Library

After determining the five class book award categories, students begin nominating books that they are reading in each category. I create nomination sheets and post them together in a central area of the classroom. Students are allowed to nominate books throughout the two months. The nomination sheets require students to write their own name, the title and level of the book, and its basket location in the library. You can download a sample nomination form (in MS Word).

Nominating Nominating1

Nomination Lists
  

Once a book is nominated, I ask students to place the book in a special "Student Book Picks" basket so that the book can be easily retrieved by other readers. I ask students to try to read many of the books that are nominated by their classmates during the two months so that they will be more prepared to vote.  However, I realize that not all books will be at each reader's "just right" level, and all readers certainly do not have enough time to read every book that is nominated. This activity is just a way to advertise books in the classroom library and encourage students to read a greater variety of books in general.

Book Basket


6. Final Voting

At the end of the nomination period (usually two months) all nominated books are added to a Class Book Award ballot, and each student votes for his or her two favorite books in each category. The book (or series) that gets the most votes in each category will be the official winner of a Class Book Award. Download a sample ballot (MS Word).

Voting2 Ballot Blank


7. Host an Awards Ceremony

Presenter1 Presenter3 The winning books are announced at an exciting Class Book Award ceremony. I set up a podium and play traditional awards ceremony music. I act as the host of the awards show, and my students act as the presenters using a fake microphone.

 

You can even have any students who nominated a book walk the "red carpet" with one of the books they nominated before the ceremony starts.

Red carpet

Selected students announce the nominees in each category and then ask their co-presenter to open a colorful envelope to reveal the winning book. The "audience" cheers, and the student who nominated the book can choose to make an "acceptance" speech to thank his or her classmates for voting for the book.  The student also explains why he or she nominated the book.

Winner Winner2

Group2
 

8. Display the Winning Books

All winning book covers (color copies) are placed inside frames and added to our Class Book Award bulletin board display with a blue ribbon that indicates the category in which each book was nominated. You may use this ribbon template, created in Print Shop, to make your own award ribbons. (If you don't have Print Shop, use the ribbon template PDF.)

Planet 13 Board Most Unpredictable

 

Once a book has received an official Class Book Award, it is forever branded with a special seal to show current (and future) students that the book was selected by the students of Room 13 as a great read!  Students often look for books with the award seal when choosing new books to put in their book box! Download gold award seals for use with MS Word. (Print on 2x4 labels.)

Seal1 Seal  
 

How Do You Build a Reading Community and/or Celebrate Reading in Your Classroom?

This is an activity I have been doing with my students for many years. I have found it to be an absolutely wonderful way to build community among readers and create excitement about books in my classroom library! Feel free to post your questions or comments about this activity, or share additional ways you celebrate reading in your own classroom. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Comments (15)

AnneMarie,

I just find the book covers by searching the book titles on Google images. I then copy the files and print them out as 5x7 photos to fit in the frames.

-Beth

Did you have to get permission to post all of the images of book covers on your website?

I was wondering how you get the covers of certain books printed? I can't tell if you have taken the book jacket off or how you did this. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful ideas!

Stefanie,

I use The Print Shop Deluxe to make most of the signs and banners you see in my classroom. Here is a link to the software: http://www.broderbund.com/p-49-the-print-shop-23-deluxe.aspx

I also use MS Word quite a bit, but I do not use MS Publisher very often at all.

-Beth

Hi Beth,

I was wondering how you make all of your posters and banners for the different activities and bulletin boards in your room. Do you use publisher or word? Thanks for your help.

I teach first grade and I want to do either the brunch or have book awards next year. Has anyone done this with first grade. I would appreciate any help from anyone. Dee

Pamela,

Your plan to give awards to your 1st graders in writing workshop sounds like a great plan. You'll have to let me know how it goes. I'm sure they will love it!

-Beth

Hi Beth, I've been thinking about your ideas on the book awards. I think I'll give awards like this to my 1st grade students in Writer's Workshop. I think they'll love it!!

Jada,

Thanks for answering my questions about your "Book Brunch." I think I may try it out next year!

-Beth

We have our book brunches during the school day, and parents as well as siblings are invited. Sometimes parents share, but usually the students share a book related to the book brunch theme. It's a lot of fun, and the parents love to see their children (especially the boys) so excited about books!

Amanda,

Here is a better link for Scholastic's awesome guided reading materials/leveled book sets: http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/guidedreading/

They have very extensive collections of both fiction and nonfiction book sets available to purchase at very competive prices!

-Beth

Amanda,

You asked about books that I use for guided reading groups. My district actually purchased sets of leveled books from MacMillan/McGraw Hill that I use, along with book sets I have purchased from Scholastic.

Scholastic does sell sets of great guided reading books. They are all leveled using the Fountas and Pinnell guided reading levels. Here is a link to all of the guided reading materials on the Scholastic website: http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/guidedreading/

Thanks for posting!!

-Beth

Hi Beth! I love your ideas and simple, down to earth instruction regarding literacy and the reading workshops.

I teach in a 3rd/4th grade multiage class at an international school in Japan. My administrator is on board with reading workshop (woohoo!) and has given me permission to order resources for next year. I have a fairly extensive personal classroom library, so I was interested in your thoughts about what to use for guided reading groups. We do not currently have a basal but we do have an A-Z reading website subscription. I was hoping for something more permanent for year after year use.

Thanks again, and keep up the encouraging posts. You make a difference! Blessings, Amanda

I submitted this comment earlier under the reading workshop post by mistake, thinking that it was the most recent post. oops :)

Jada,

Thanks for sharing your own reading celebration! Your book brunch idea is awesome! Do you do these brunches during the school day or before school. Also, it sounds like parents are invited. Do parents also bring their own books to share?

-Beth

I try to have several book brunches during the year...each book brunch has its own theme. One winter, the theme was "Books that Warm the Heart". The students chose books that touched them personally in some way to share. They read excerpts and gave book talks while sipping hot chocolate and enjoying cookies. The parents loved to see their children (especially the boys) so engaged and having natural conversations about reading.

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