by Colby Sharp

One of my favorite things to do with my students is a Mock Caldecott unit. Each year, my friend Mr. Schu and I select 20 books for the study. Mr. Schu posts the list on his blog with a whole bunch of resources. I kick off the unit by sharing Mr. Schu’s post with my students, and then we get to work.


During the unit my students read and reread and reread the books on the list. We discuss the Caldecott criteria. They quickly develop favorites. Those favorites often change as they dig deeper and look more closely at the books.


Once they’ve become experts on the 20 picture books they select a favorite. Then they talk all of their mad persuasive writing skills and create a video essay trying to convince their classmates which book they think should be honored by our pretend Caldecott committee.

After watching the videos, students can come to the front of the classroom and give their final arguments. I love watching an 8-year-old kid beg their classmates to vote for the book that they hold closest to their hearts.

After everyone has said all that they have to say about the books, I pass out the ballet. Each student is allowed to vote for up to four books. This year the first round of voting resulted in 5 books receiving a significant amount of votes.


On to round two.

I love watching the kids react to their favorite book not making it to round two. We talk about how important it is that they respect the opinion of the committee, and that they finish the job that they started. Even though the book they loved the most didn’t win, doesn’t mean they can check out.

During the second round of voting students select two books. This year Deborah Freedman’s SHY and Jon Klassen’s WE FOUND A HAT received the most votes.


Time for the final round!

Before this round we have another round of debates. I really enjoy watching kids get behind a new book, and try to convince their classmates why that book is the one they should vote for.

For the final tabulation of votes, I read the anonymous votes out loud one by one. It creates a fun and dramatic environment.

By a vote of 18-9 SHY took home this year’s top prize.


Deborah Freedman saw some of the tweets that I posted about our little project, and she offered to Skype with our class. The day after we selected SHY as our Mock Caldecott winner we spent a half hour chatting with Deborah about books, chasing your dreams, and how she became an a creator of books.



It is my hope that we can work together to help the kids in our lives realize that you don’t ever have to ever outgrow picture books.

colbysharpColby Sharp is a third grade teacher in Parma, Michigan. He is the co-founder of Nerdy Book Club, Nerd Camp, and the #SharpSchu Twitter book club. He co-hosts The Yarn podcast with Travis Jonker. Mr. Sharp is currently working on THE CREATIVITY PROJECT with a bunch of his friends. Visit him online at and on Twitter @colbysharp.


Viking is generously giving away a copy of Deborah Freedman’s SHY to accompany today’s Storystorm post.

Leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once on this blog post. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.

Good luck!