Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Exploring the Caldecott books

New Year's Resolutions - I have mixed feelings about them. Do they help us achieve our goals, or are they just a passing fad, something discarded by the time the snow melts? I have been thinking for quite a while that I would like to get to know older picture books better, try to revisit old favorites like The Story of Ferdinand - or read books I really never remember, like Blueberries for Sal. I want to think about what makes these classic picture books sing to children, what draws children to them time and again.

When teacher and library friends, part of the Nerdy Book Club (#nerdybookclub on Twitter - yes, really), started talking about reading all of the Newbery award winners, my thoughts turned to the Caldecott award. The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually "to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book published in the United States during the preceding year." This award, granted by the American Library Association, is not only a high honor for the winner but also a sign to parents everywhere that this is a truly special book.

My goal for 2012 is to read as many of the picture books awarded the Caldecott Medal or Honor as I can. I will be reading both with a lens of history, trying to get a sense of what picture books spoke to children in the 1940s, 1950s and on. But I will mainly be reading these classic picture books to share books with children and families today, thinking about those that still make a wonderful read aloud, that still have beautiful art to share.

Throughout the year, I hope to share my favorite Caldecott books with my Great Kid Books readers and with my students at Emerson. I also will be sharing favorites with my librarian and teacher friends through Twitter and Goodreads. If you'd like to join me, please do! Head over to the Caldecott Challenge organized by the wonderful librarians Laura and Anna over at LibLaura5 and A to Z Library. You can also read Laura's guide to creating a Goodreads shelf for this. Laura has started a great series at her blog documenting her reading with lots of great photos. I've also had so much fun reading my friend John Schumacher's updates for his Caldecott challenge over at Watch.Connect.Read.

Wish me luck with this New Year's Resolution. I'm starting with first reading some history about the Caldecott award and some of Randolph Caldecott's picture books. Then I'll start reading some of the first picture books awarded the Caldecott Medal or Honor. It should be a fun journey!

©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.


  1. What a great resolution! Looking forward to your posts about books you liked the best, in the meantime joining the challenge. Happy New Year!

  2. Hi, can i ask you something? I'm looking for children books with such "scary" animal illustrations like a wolf (or fox) eating pigs (or seven kids or Red Riding hood or birds in Chicken Little) or being pictured with a fat stomach. Have you seen any book of this sort? Any sort of help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Great blog, by the way ;)


  3. Thanks, Anya - I'm having a great time exploring these books!

    Nelly, my favorite wolf story is Lon Po Po by Ed Young. The illustrations are definitely scary but abstract enough to leave a lot to kids' imaginations. Ed Young won the Caldecott in 1990 for his illustrations in this wonderful Chinese red riding hood story.

  4. All the best Mary for your Endeavors.
    Looking forward to reading your books.

  5. My full support for your efforts.
    Keep up the good work.