Mock Newbery Book Club: a how-to

This is my year of TRY. As often as possible, I’m trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone.  In that vein I endeavored to start a Mock Newbery Book Club (M.N.B.C.) for my 4th and 5th graders.

Why? Because new books are exciting. Because anyone in grades 4 and 5 can participate. Because reading to answer rote questions is boring but reading and thinking and reading and conversing and reading is FUN. Because creating and defending opinions while conversing is a powerful tool.  Because I love talking new books with students…and they like reading and talking about new books, too. BECAUSE IT WAS TIME TO TRY SOMETHING NEW.

How it is working, in a timeline-style of way:

Research Mock Newbery and think of your school. (Aug/early Sep)

Our nominees:

Create a spreadsheet of titles/authors/prices. (mid-Sep)

  • Make it easy for people to say YES. Have a detailed budget. Plan for the cost at many levels (1 copy vs 4 copies). Here’s our Excel spreadsheet: mock-newbery-budget
  • Start thinking of how to pay for the books. DonorsChoose and PTA grants are two ways to get funding.
  • Start thinking of what you’ll do with the books after voting. Donate them to teachers? Giveaways for student readers? Something else?

Start building interest! (mid-Sep)

  • Write a Mock Newbery interest letter. Here’s mine: mock-newbery-interest-letter-generic
  • Send an overview email to teachers. Invite them to participate! Include your principal, too! (mid Sep)
  • Advertise upcoming interest meeting to students during library class. (mid Sep)
    • In my building, I hold interest meetings in order to informally assess the dedication students have to a club. They can only receive the sign-up form by attending the interest meeting.

Hold interest meeting. (mid-late Sep)

  • I hold mine during recess. Spending 15 minutes to hear about a book club has not been an issue in my school.  This year, over 60% of attendees ended up joining the club. The #1 reason for who didn’t join: the early 7:15am start time…but that wasn’t to be helped due to teaching/scheduling issues.

Buy the books and consider circulation. (late Sep)

  • By waiting to see how many students show up (and return) the interest letter, I can estimate how many copies we’ll need. This year, with 30 students and 4 teachers, I bought 4 copies of 10 books. Everyone is reading something at any given point in time.
  • How will the books circulate? I honestly didn’t know what to do here, so I gave this task to my students at our first meeting. They came up with a sign-out sheet idea and found a good space to store the M.N.B.C. titles in our library…all without using the computer. I wanted the books to be without barcodes (to facilitate donating / gifting) and the system to be very easy; hence, old-fashioned paper and pencil.

Now, it’s time for the meetings…and what is causing me some panic. Here’s what we’re doing each week. Note: in a perfect world, the start date would’ve been Oct 5…

  • Week 1: Oct 19, 2016
    • Overview of Newbery Medal from http://www.ala.org. I asked students what they knew about the medal and filled in from there.
    • Show M.N.B.C. titles. Booktalked Raymie Nightingale and Pax. Showed the book trailer for Some Kind of Courage. Thanks to Mrs. Hembree for the great trailer!
    • Come up with way to circulate/store M.N.B.C. books.
    • Hand out books to student readers!

  • Week 2: Oct 26, 2016
    • Review circulation of M.N.B.C. titles.
    • Review Newbery criteria from ALA.
    • Break out into small groups. Start discussing titles and noting opinions via informal rating form. mock-newbery-rating-sheet-generic Maybe one day, this’ll be organized on OneNote.
    • Hand out M.N.B.C. bookmarks!
  • Week 3: Nov 2, 2016
    • First book discussion and rating. Break apart into 3 groups. Talk/listen about each title. Compare reading to ALA’s standards.

Our principal even got in on the reading and discussing!

  • Week 4: Nov 9, 2016
    • More small-group book discussion. Prepare for next week’s Skype visit by brainstorming questions.
  • Week 5: Nov 16, 2016
    • Skype author visit! This year: Dan Gemeinhart talked about Some Kind of Courage.
      • Notice the stacked chairs? We did this during Book Fair week! And I’m holding my phone – my laptop wouldn’t connect to Skype, so my iPhone (and a Smartboard adapter) to the rescue!
  • Week 6: Nov 23, 2016
    • Book discussion
    • Thankful For Books – notes to Mock Newbery authors for Thanksgiving
  • Week 7: Nov 30, 2016
    • Online research: what does the Internet have to show for 2017 Newbery contenders?
    • Choose 1 additional title to add to Mock Newbery List (for us: The Girl Who Drank the Moon)
  • Week 8: Dec 7, 2016
    • Host guest from local library – Cecilia McGowan, 2018 Newbery Chair
  • Week 9: Dec 14, 2016
    • More book discussion!
  • Week 10: Jan 4, 2017
    • Book discussion
  • Week 11: Jan 11, 2017
    • Last week of discussion – write 1 sentence to persuade someone to read the book you like best
  • Week 12: Jan 18, 2017
    • VOTING WEEK!
  • Week 13: Jan 25, 2016
    • Final recap. Watch tape-delayed announcement. Be prepared to talk about winner that we didn’t choose 🙂

3 thoughts on “Mock Newbery Book Club: a how-to

  1. Pingback: 2017 Mock Newbery – RESULTS! | Librarian Arika

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