Students will become active participants in a classroom reading community. They will learn the importance of sharing their interests in literature with others, and they will realize the social aspect of reading.
- Evaluate and reflect upon the books that they are reading
- Develop criteria for various Class Book Award categories
- Nominate books that they feel are worthy of Class Book Award status
- Read books recommended by fellow members of a reading community
- Vote to determine which books will receive Class Book Awards
- Read-aloud books that have been awarded Caldecott Medals, Newbery Medals, or the Coretta Scott King Book Award
- Chart paper and marker
- Computer and printer
- Butcher paper for bulletin board display
- Basket or bin to house nominated books
- Sample Book Awards Ballot: October Newiberry Awards printable
- Sheets of label stickers (sized to fit on or inside books)
- Optional: Colorful envelopes large enough to hold books
- Optional: Podium
- Optional: Fake microphone
- Optional: Frames for bulletin board display
- Optional: Scanner or color copier
- Optional: Blue ribbons for bulletin board display
- Choose read-aloud books that have been awarded Caldecott Medals, Newbery Medals, or the Coretta Scott King Book Award to use as examples of each award. These examples will help students become familiar with the books when it comes time to discuss the Class Book Award criteria.
Before Part 3
- Come up with your own Book Award categories to use a model for your students. While the ideas for new categories are endless, here are some examples:
- Best Fiction Series
- Best Illustrations
- Most Humorous Picture Book
- Best Lesson Learned
- Book With the Bravest Character
- Most Unpredictable Story
- Favorite Action-Adventure Chapter Book
- Favorite Mixed-Up Fairy Tale
- Most Interesting Biography
- Book With a Character Who Changes the Most From Beginning to End
- Book With the Best Hero
- Book With the Best Example of Teamwork
- Book With the Most Descriptive Language
- Best Holiday Story
- Optional: Before my class votes on book award categories, I create my own categories and set up a book award display so that students can visualize the end result of this activity. I used frames from a dollar store to hold color copies of the books I chose as my own favorites for the categories that I came up with myself. This created excitement and buzz within the reading community because students were both interested in my favorite books and eager to create their own categories.
Before Part 4
- Create a Class Book Award Bulletin Board display. This display should feature the name of your book awards (determined in Part 2), small headings for each of the Book Award categories (determined in Part 3), a place to house the blank Book Award Nomination Forms (see below), and a labeled basket or bin to hold the nominated books so students can easily access them.
- Students will need to nominate books for each award throughout the month. Design a Class Book Award Nomination Form for students to use. You will need to print out one form for each Book Award category for each month. I create separate title cards so the form can be the same for each category. Make sure to include information such as the Book Award Category and the title and author of the book on the nomination form so all students can easily find the nominated book.
- Using the Sample Book Awards Ballot: October Newiberry Awards printable as an example, create a ballot template that will list the nominated books in each Book Award category and provide space for students to mark their choices. The ballot will change every month, so remember to update your template before each vote!
Before Part 6
- Design and scan a Class Book Award medal (or the winning student's medal, if you hold a medal design contest) onto your computer. Make sure the year is included on the medal so that students in years to come will know that this book received a class book award from students in a previous year.
- Print the Class Book Award medal on removable labels that can be placed on winning books throughout the year. You could also glue or tape the copies of the medal on the cover or inside of the books.
Part 1: Becoming Familiar With Notable Book Awards
Step 1: Ask students if they have ever read a book that has a picture of a medal on the front cover.
Step 2: After some discussion, hold up some books from your classroom library that have been awarded either the Caldecott Medal or the Newbery Medal, preferably books with which your students are familiar.
Step 3: Provide students with some background information about the Newbery or Caldecott Medals, and explain the criteria used to choose which books receive these awards each year.
Step 4: Once you have chosen one of the book awards to study, pick one award-winning book with which students are familiar and discuss why students think the book was chosen, based on the criteria you have shared with them. For example, if you choose the Caldecott Medal, you will look closely at the pictures and discuss what makes the pictures so wonderful. If you choose the Newbery Medal, you will think more deeply about the text and discuss what makes the story so original or memorable. If you choose the Coretta Scott King Award, you will look more closely at the book's theme.
Step 5: Explain to the members of your reading community that they will be celebrating their own favorite books by choosing books each month (or every two months) to receive Class Book Awards created and designed by the students themselves.
Part 2: Naming and Designing the Award
Step 1: Draw students' attention to the medals that are placed on the cover of pre-selected library books that have received Newbery, Caldecott, or Coretta Scott King Awards.
Step 2: Explain to students that the Class Book Award will be different, so it will need its own special name and its own special seal.
Step 3: Make a list of students' suggestions for the award name, and then hold a class vote to determine the final name of your Class Book Awards. For example, my class book awards are called Newiberry Awards because my last name is Newingham.
Optional: Host a medal design contest where each student designs a medal with the chosen name of your class book awards.
Part 3: Creating Book Award Categories
Step 1: To make the Class Book Award process more exciting, my class chooses four to five categories each month. Winners in each category will receive a class book award at the end of the month. Determine ahead of time how many categories you plan to use.
Step 2: Give students a few examples of possible book award categories, then ask them to suggestion their own. Record their responses using a sheet of chart paper.
Step 3: After you have many ideas for categories written on the chart paper, have each student vote for his or her favorite two categories. Choose the top categories that receive the most votes. These will be the book award categories that students will focus on this month.
Note: As the teacher, you may also feel the need to determine one of the categories yourself if you are focusing on specific character traits or other features of text in reading or writing workshop.
Step 4: For each of the final categories, hold a brief discussion about what would make a book worthy of a nomination in each category. Setting criteria ahead of time will make students more selective when nominating books.
Part 4: Book Nominations
Step 1: Once the class has determined the four or five categories for which books can receive book awards, you will need to explain to them the process of nominating books during independent reading time. Introduce students to the Class Book Award Bulletin Board display, the designated place in the classroom where students will post book nomination forms for each book award category.
Step 2: Show students a copy of your Class Book Award Nomination Form and model how you would nominate a book for a particular category.
All nomination forms are posted in a special area in the classroom.
Step 3: Explain that after a book is nominated, students should place the book in the basket or bin labeled "Nominated Books" so that other readers can easily access the nominated books.
Step 4: Refer to the nominations often throughout the month so that the excitement level remains strong. You will find that there are many nominations in the first week and fewer as the month goes along unless you make an effort to draw regular attention to the nomination forms.
Step 5: Since students will be voting on the nominated books at the end of the month, you should encourage readers to look at the Class Book Award Nomination Forms often and try to read some of the nominated books that they have not yet read so that they will be more prepared to vote.
Note: Of course, every student will not have read every book that is nominated, but you will be surprised at the eagerness of students to read books that have been nominated by their peers. Again, this activity is strengthening your reading community because the nominations create excitement and buzz about reading.
Part 5: Monthly Voting
Step 1: At the end of the month, remove the Class Book Award Nomination Forms and update your Book Awards Ballot template to include all books that have been nominated in each category. See the Sample Book Awards Ballot: October Newiberry Awards printable for an idea of how you might structure your ballots.
Step 2: Pass out the final ballots and have students place their votes. I allow students to vote for two books in each category.
Part 6: Book Award Ceremony
Step 1: Once you have tallied the votes from the ballots, it is time to hold a Book Award ceremony. Try to make this as exciting and authentic as possible. If you have the materials, use a podium and a fake microphone for the ceremony.
Step 2: Put the winning books into large colored envelopes prior to the ceremony. Write the names of the categories on the front of the envelopes.
Step 3: Find a way to select student presenters for each category. I draw two names for each category before the ceremony.
Step 4: Print copies of the nominees for each category so that the presenters read all of the nominees before they open the envelope and hold up the winning book.
Step 5: After welcoming students to the ceremony, announce each category and invite the pre-selected presenters to come to the podium one award at a time. Because I choose two presenters per ward, one presenter reads the nominees and the other presenter opens the envelope to reveal the winning book. It is fun to see how excited the class gets about the winning books!
Student presenters announce the nominees.
Step 6: Make a color copy of the cover of the book that wins in each category and place the copy in a frame to add to the Book Award Bulletin Board. I also place blue ribbons next to the framed books to indicate the category in which the books won. The winning books remain on the bulletin board until the next awards ceremony when new book award winners are determined.
All books that receive awards are added to our Class Book Award display.
Step 7: Return the winning books to the classroom library with an award medal attached to the cover of the book.
Book medals are bestowed upon winning books each month.
Supporting All Learners
I like this activity because it allows students of all different reading abilities to take part in a collaborative activity. If some books are nominated that I know some readers would have a hard time reading, I may choose to read them aloud or include them as a book read with certain students in a guided reading setting.
- In your weekly or monthly newsletter, include regular updates about the Class Book Awards, including the new categories at the beginning of each month, updates about nominations during the month, and, of course, the winners at the end of each month.
- If you do not send home a newsletter, consider creating a Class Book Award note that goes home at the end of each month with monthly winners and new categories. Parents can get in on the fun by helping their children talk about the categories when reading books at home.
- Students take part in the book award activity by nominating books and attempting to read some books that are nominated by their peers.
- Students take part in the final voting.
- Are students able to come up with original categories for the nominations each month?
- Are all students participating in the nomination process?
- Am I encouraging students to refer to the nomination forms often to maintain the initial excitement of the monthly categories?
- Are monthly book awards too much? Should I do it bi-monthly?
- Are the Class Book Awards strengthening my reading community?
I assess my students as a class during this activity. The goal is to strengthen the reading community in my classroom. If the nominations are creating excitement about books, and students are choosing to read nominated books, I consider this activity a success. I do pay attention to who is nominating books to make sure that all students are taking part in the nomination process.