Two weeks have passed in our Mock Caldecott Medal Committee focus group. Each day brings new insight.
Parts of the process which our participants have difficult with:
1. Sticking to the parameters of the medal. I often hear a teacher say “I love this book, but our kids won’t get it.” At first I jumped in with “Remember, the parameters of the medal. Books for ages birth to 14 are to be considered.” Now I wait and within a few minutes they tend to remind themselves.
2. Sticking to the parameters of the medal. It’s hard for teachers to remember that the Caldecott Medal is for the illustrations.
3. Being vulnerable. Looking at the books is a joy. Committing your opinions to paper is another thing. Like our students, we are afraid of being wrong. I keep reminding our participants that this is a process. It is ok to be wrong. We all have to start somewhere. My suggestion is that they enjoy the book. Then pull out the list of things to look for and find one. What they learn to see will expand each time they do this.
4. Being right. Some of the participants have told me they don’t know much about this and then have turned around and amazed me. They know more about some types of art and art criticism than I do. They just aren’t sure that they are applying their knowledge “correctly”.
M Making decisions. How are we ever going to choose? While a few of us have clear favorites, there are others who love every book and cannot imagine choosing one. Life is tough. We’ll do it somehow. When someone gets into this frazzled state of mind I like to hand them a book which I’m pretty sure they won’t like. It breaks the cycle and gives them a breather.
6. Making the distinction between “what I like” and “what is distinguished”. Many people have told me they didn’t have a book high on their list because they didn’t like the story – it was too sad, boring, didn’t have a happy ending, wasn’t a subject they were interested in, etc. It’s hard to put that aside and look at the illustrations for their effectiveness in portraying a story if you don’t like the story.