Kids always amaze me. They come to discussions full of energy and enthusiasm, with fresh eyes. Our final Mock Newbery discussion was rich, thoughtful and passionate. We have had a terrific time this fall turning our 5th grade book club into a Mock Newbery group. Each week, we talked about the books we’ve been reading, sharing the books’ strengths and weaknesses.
It’s now January 31st and the Newbery winners have been announced, but I think it’s worth highlighting the process our students went through this fall.
One of the biggest challenges was comparing such different books–and books we’ve read over the span of 4+ months. We worked in pairs to fill out a simple chart that helped us focus on the essential literary qualities the Newbery Committee will be considering. Our goal was to think about which book exemplified a distinguished contribution to American children’s literature for each quality.
We spoke about each element, citing specific ways we felt the different books were outstanding examples. For example, Bella noted that Ann Burg, the author of Serafina, did an outstanding job creating a character readers could relate to:
The author helped us go inside of Serafina and understand her feelings and emotions.
Our overall winner was Serafina’s Promise, a novel that was on several “best of” lists, but few Mock Newbery lists. Our students had great things to say about the Newbery Medal winner, Flora & Ulysses, picking it as one of their honor books.
Read more about our whole process at Great Kid Books.
Mary Ann Scheuer
Librarian, Emerson School