Are you ready for your Mock Caldecott 2023? A fun activity to do each year is to do some Mock Caldecott activities in which you determine which book your class, grade level or school thinks is should win the Caldecott Medal and Caldecott Honors. More so than the Newbery Medal, a Mock Caldecott Medal competition is great for both upper and primary elementary students as each book must be a picture book. Books can be read in short periods of time and allow for many books to be considered. The Newbery Medal, however, includes both picture books and middle grade novels and makes considering possible winners more difficult to do due to the time constraints of reading novels. Check out below some background information about the medal and the picture books I believe stand the best chance of winning the Caldecott Medal this year!
Previous Mock Caldecott Competitions
Last year for the Caldecott Medal 2022, I correctly guessed 3 out of the 5 recipients of the Caldecott medal and honor.
For 2021 Caldecott Medal Competition, I correctly guessed the Caldecott Medal winner as well as a few other award winners and honorees.
Hopefully I can continue my streak this year, so you can have that joy of having read the winning books with your students when the award winners are announced at the Youth Media Awards.
Each year the American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards honors books and other media for children at the end of January. Named for the 19th century English children’s book illustrator Randolph Caldecott. The scene depicted on the medal is from a book he illustrated titled “The Diverting Story of John Gilpin.”
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is given to the most distinguished artist of an American picture book. The artist must be an American citizen or resident.
Books may only be considered if they were published in the United States in English first or at the same time as being published in another country or in another language.
A single medal winner is chosen each year and the selection committee may choose one or a few runners-up called Caldecott Honor books.
Caldecott Medal Selection Criteria
A 15 person selection committee comprised of librarians chooses the winner and honor books based on the following criteria:
- Excellence of execution in the artistic technique
- Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.
- Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story,
theme or concept.
- Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or
information through the pictures.
- Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child
If you’d like to read the full Caldecott Committee Manual, you can do so here.
I also have a great blog post detailing some of my favorite Caldecott Medal winners here.
Mock Caldecott 2023 Activities
- Introduce the Caldecott Medal
- Read previous medal winners and honorees
- Present the selection criteria
- Read potential winners
- Vote for which is the best based on the criteria
- Decide how many honor books to select
- Watch the awards live or the recording to see which books won and were honored (usually 30-60 minutes into the awards banquet)
Mock Caldecott 2023 Potential Winners
See below for books that I think stand the best chance of winning or being honored to include in your Mock Caldecott 2023 competition. Books are not listed in any order nor does the order reflect which are most or least likely to win.
Check back frequently as I will be updating this list!
Blue by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond and illustrated by Daniel Minter
Daniel Minter is Caldecott Honoree. Could this finally be the year that he wins the medal? This book explores the history and cultural significance of the color blue. This book is absolutely gorgeous! My one worry is that, with it being nonfiction, very few nonfiction books ever win the Caldecott Medal. Sure they get Caldecott honors, but very rarely do they win.
The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez
I was a little bit peeved that the committee didn’t show any love to this duo’s previous book The Day You Begin. I’m hoping this year they do! This book focuses on two siblings who are bored one day. Their grandmother encourages them to use their minds to escape their boredom. Certainly a message today’s kids need more than ever with their constant access to screens! The beautiful, imaginative illustrations are a joy to pore over.
I Love You Because I Love You by Muon Thi Van and Jessica Love
Last year, Muon Thi Van’s book Wishes, in my opinion, was perhaps the greatest snub from the ALA awards committee. It was my front-runner. On the other hand, the Caldecott Committee also snubbed Jessica Love *cough* Julian is a Mermaid *cough*. Still in Jessica Love’s unique style, I Love You Because I Love You is a beautiful book meant to be read by one or two people. It explores all the reasons, both big and small, that people love each other.
Hot Dog by Doug Salati
This book, on top of being a delightful story, has even better illustrations. The book is about as close to a wordless book as you can get without being a wordless book. It sort of reminds me of Matthew Cordell’s Caldecott Medall-winning book Wolf in the Snow in its near complete lack of words. What is it about wordless books that make them so endearing and so full of emotion and heart?
This book is about a city dog that finally can’t take the heat anymore. The dog’s owner understands and takes them to an island to cool off and escape the city. This book has all of the heart and joy of books that other Caldecott committees have rewarded plus a pinch of humor. This book is all about remembering to stop to smell the roses that could make it a great social emotional learning book or a book for summer.
Endlessly Ever After by Laurel Snyder and Dan Santat
Dan Santat already won the Caldecott Medal for The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, which is a bit of a disadvantage for this book. This book is also not your standard picture book. It’s a choose your own adventure style book with 92 pages. This fractured fairy tale story is delightful and written in couplets, making this book a great book for studying poetry styles. It starts with the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood and adds in many other classic tales depending on which choices you make along the way. I’m not sure the committee will show this book as much love as it deserves, but it could definitely be worthy of an honor.
Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
This book is HILARIOUS and so full of cute details that kids love it, and that is one of the main criterion for the Caldecott medal. In the story, Owl wants nothing more than to be a knight. A recent increase in knight disappearances leads to the loosening of restrictions for knighthood, so Owl signs up immediately. He passes with “flying” colors, and is assigned to night knight duty because he can stay awake all night without falling asleep. Cute details, am I right? It turns out it’s a dragon taking the knights. Owl comes up with a great idea, and turns the dragon into a friend (with pizza!).
Nigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady and Gracey Zhang
Nigel goes to a private school that is starting Career Week. He wants to be an astronaut, a dancer or a superhero, but he can’t tell his class that. The only one he can tell is the Moon. During Career Week he wants to think of something like the other kids. He wishes his parents had big important jobs like his classmates, but his mom is a mail carrier and his dad is a truck driver. He is embarrassed about himself and his family.
His parents come to visit his class, and he gains the confidence to tell the class about his dreams. Many are putting this book near the top of their Caldecott lists, and I would do the same: near the top but not quite the top. I love Gracey Zhang’s style. I thought her book Lala’s Words was snubbed last year. Maybe this year she’ll get some recognition.
The Treasure Box by Dave Keane and Rahele Jomepour Bell
Searching for treasures with her grandpa is this young girl’s favorite thing to do. Every week they examine the items in her secret box and go on walks to find more—a broken robin’s egg, rusty spring, even a snakeskin that makes Grandpa squirm and make funny faces.
But then Grandpa is too sick to come. She leaves him a few treasures in the hospital, but when he dies, she can’t bring herself to even open the treasure box. When Grammy brings her some treasures Grandpa wanted her to have, they open the box together and continue the tradition, showing that memories of time together are the greatest treasures of all. The beautiful, emotion-evoking illustrations are sure to catch the attention of the Caldecott committee. That said, it is certainly darker in content matter than most winners and honorees in the past other than historical books like Unspoken.
Conclusion: Mock Caldecott 2023 Activities
Be sure to have a fun Mock Caldecott competition at your school! Which books do you think have a chance of winning? Did I miss any that you think really have a good chance? Also, School Library Journal has lists of predictions throughout the year if you are looking for more ideas!