These are the Caldecott Award winning books.
In the last few weeks, Liliana and I have been going through Caldecott Award winning books. Because, as she starts her reading journey, why not include some of the best?
Caldecott books range in reading levels, so we had to stick to the lower end of the reading level spectrum, so I wasn't completely over her head, but I did include some more complicated stories. And remember, books that are awarded the Caldecott Medal are geared toward children 14 and younger.
I created interest in part, by having a set of Silver Caldecott stickers on hand. You can get them from the American Library Association's store. You get a bunch of them - so you can do this activity more than once - which we will. And this activity grows up with kids, since you can move on to more complex Caldecotts like Snowflake Bentley, or on to other awards like Newbery Awards or Sibert Awards for Non-Fiction.
Identify Caldecott Books.
"Mom, I wanna do the gold stickers right now."
In order to identify Caldecott awards, I pointed out the gold stickers on the front of the books that had won. This is as simple as putting them on hold at the bookstore or library, picking up the stack and pointing out the sticker. It's simply an identifier.
If you take the time to point them out, especially during your normal browsing routine, your child will learn this. And, they will learn that these books are special in some way.
Surround yourself with Caldecott books.
We used a time range of Caldecott winners. These range in publication from 2013 all the way back to 1942. The books are shown in publication date, starting with the most recent one we used. The book covers are all clickable so if you want them, you can get them too. We mixed from my childhood books (Jumanji and Make Way for Ducklings!), bought new books and borrowed from the library for this tip. Most libraries will keep the Caldecotts in their system forever. This would be true for Newbery books too.
Show a couple non-examples.
Again, we looked at a few. And it was easy to distinguish - these books all have silver stickers instead of gold. We looked at In the Night Kitchen, Waiting, Knuffle Bunny and...
Gather Your Own Books. Have an Awards Ceremony!
We had picked a stack of our own books to look through to see if any merited a runner-up silver sticker. Liliana told me she wanted to award her sticker to The Shape of My Heart.
"Because you have to use the pictures to understand the book, Mom. You have to point sometimes at the pictures to find things."
She actually didn't go for the book I would have awarded the sticker to because of the grand and colorful pictures (Swatch) but one that made sense to her experience. Great toddler answer. I would expect more from a bigger kid - more explanation as to how the pictures helped understanding, turning to a page and giving you details as to how the particular picture helped your child's understanding specifically (this is supporting opinions with details). You want these explanations to get more sophisticated as they get older.
And don't be afraid to use picture books with kids all the way through elementary school, even upper elementary school and middle school. The grander goal of this reading routine is to get kids to identify good books, understand why they are good, tell you why they are excellent books using details to support their opinions, and then apply that whole thought process to giving out their own award. Analyze and apply - the gold standard.
Plus, if nothing else - you'll be reading excellent and beautiful books along the way!
For bigger kids
If you want to use non-fiction at home or have a kid who is beyond willing to read non-fiction, do it with the Sibert Informational Book Medal instead.
Tips for Teachers
Make sure to model why a book would receive a Caldecott Honor medal using details from the book. Don't use your favorite book for this - just one that illustrates it exceedingly well. Try a book they know - like a Patricia Polacco, a Tomie DePaola book or another one of Kevin Henkes books and model why you think it should have won the award.
Except, read all of the books the kids bring in. So, you may want them to bring them in on a Tuesday, so you can preview the books and then start sharing them throughout the week. Cap it off with your favorite picture book on Friday.
This works with bigger kids too - all the way through elementary school. A good picture book is good for the soul.