You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Colby Sharp’ tag.

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!


I don’t write, illustrate, publish, or edit picture books. I don’t work in a bookshop or belong to a school library marketing team. So what do I do then? I read. I read. I READ.

I read thousands of picture books every year. I’m always searching for the next best picture book. When I find *that* picture book, I feel compelled to promote it during my annual road trip, purchase copies for strangers, blog and tweet about it, feature it on a #kidlit sticker, and encourage every child who enters my school library to add it to their to-read list.



Mr. Colby Sharp attended children’s literature expert Anita Silvey’s session during the NCTE Annual Convention. He tweeted:

Anita Silvey succinctly sums up how I feel about children’s books. (If you’re not familiar with Anita’s work, you MUST follow her Children’s Book-A-Day Almanac.) Most of you reading this blog post are hard at work creating one of the most remarkable things on the face of the earth. Your picture book could change the way a child looks at the world, turn a dormant reader into an avid reader, and even win the coveted Caldecott Medal.

I am thankful my second through fifth graders (150 students) have checked out over 5,000 picture books during Picture Book Month. Treasures that have not circulated in over two years are taking a much-deserved trip in a child’s backpack. I get goose bumps whenever I spot a fifth grader checking out a book he loved in first grade. He usually hugs it and says, “I love this book.” I always pretend the book smiles and whispers, “Hey, I love you, too.”

I wish I found a magic wand in my mailbox with the following note attached to it:

Dear Mr. Schu,
Thank you for supporting and believing in picture books. This colorful wand allows you to send five 2012 picture books to everyone hard at work writing and illustrating picture books. I know you will select books that will inspire individuals to “create the most remarkable thing on the face of the earth.”

Thanks for all you do for picture books.

Your friend,
Picture Book

BOY + BOT. Written by Ame Dyckman. Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. Random House, 2012.


HELLO! HELLO! Written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell. Hyperion, 2012.


GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS! Written and illustrated by Jeff Mack. Chronicle Books, 2012.


Z IS FOR MOOSE. Written by Kelly Bingham. Illustrated Paul O. Zelinsky. HarperCollins, 2012.


THE THREE NINJA PIGS. Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Illustrated by Dan Santat. Putnam Books, 2012.


I cannot wait to share your picture book with my students.

Happy reading, writing, and Thanksgiving!


John Schumacher (aka Mr. Schu) is a teacher-librarian at Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook, Illinois. John graduated from St. Xavier University with a Masters in Teaching and Leadership and from Dominican University with a Masters in Library and Information Science. He has taught English in Seoul, South Korea, and is in his ninth year at Brook Forest. John serves on AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning, the Monarch Readers’ Choice Selection Committee, and the 2014 Newbery Committee. He was a judge for School Library Journal‘s 2011 Trailee Awards and recently became a FableVision Ambassador. In his spare time (ummm…what’s that?) he reads, travels, and blogs at Watch. Connect. Read. John is a 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

Mr. Schu is giving away not ONE, but TWO books: HELLO! HELLO! and Z IS FOR MOOSE! Two winners will be selected in one week. Just leave a comment to enter (one entry per person). Good luck!

Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & my work!

Enter your email to receive kidlit news, writing tips, book reviews & giveaways. Wow, such incredible technology! Next up: delivery via drone.

Join 14,041 other subscribers

My Books

Blog Topics


Twitter Updates