Picture Book Brain

Sign up for the MEMBERSHIP 
cropped Header
start here icon
Start here
about me icon
Games icon
Book Lists
shop TPT store
membership button to click to join

The Best Mock Caldecott 2024 Competition Activities

Are you ready for your Mock Caldecott 2024? 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!

You can get my Mock Caldecott Medal competition slides, activities and voting forms HERE

Previous Mock Caldecott Competitions

Last year for the Caldecott Medal 2023, I correctly guessed 3 out of the 5 recipients of the medal and honor. I had the same record 3 for 5 in the Caldecott Medal 2022 awards.

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.”

3441892 orig

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:

  1. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique
  2. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.
  3. Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story,
    theme or concept.
  4. Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or
    information through the pictures.
  5. 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 2024 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)
Check out these books that should be on your Mock Caldecott 2024 list.  Suggested Mock Caldecott activities for librarians and teachers to do with their elementary students. These picture books have a great chance at winning the Caldecott Medal or Caldecott Honor and your Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students will love selecting which book should win their Mock Caldecott competition.

Mock Caldecott 2024 Potential Winners

See below for the books in my mock Caldecott predictions 2024 that I think stand the best chance of winning or being honored to include in your Mock Caldecott 2024 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 throughout the year!

Check out these books that should be on your Mock Caldecott 2024 list.  Suggested Mock Caldecott activities for librarians and teachers to do with their elementary students. These picture books have a great chance at winning the Caldecott Medal or Caldecott Honor and your Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade students will love selecting which book should win their Mock Caldecott competition.

The Skull by Jon Klassen

Years ago, Jon Klassen had a post on his Instagram about reading an obscure folktale in a remote Alaskan library, forgetting the title of the book, and emailing the librarian with a vague description of the story. Within a few hours, the librarian had found the book and sent him scans of the whole story. THIS is his retelling of the story. It’s creepy, it’s hilarious, it’s heart-warming, and it’s nothing like any book any Caldecott Committee has ever chosen. HOWEVER, this is the book that my four year-old has constantly asked me to reread despite its length. Oh yeah, and it’s Jon Klassen. The way that he creates such technical, descriptive artwork with so little in his trademark understated, less-is-more style is simply stunning. Everyone who I have talked to who has read it has something to say about it, and that’s important.

The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker

Aaron Becker received a Caldecott Honor back in 2014 for Journey, but maybe it’s time he finally wins the medal for this one? The Tree and the River tells the tale of how ephemeral people are in the grand scheme of things using a single setting: a tree and a river. While people change everything around nature, people eventually destroy themselves leaving the tree and the river ready to continue on and start anew. In Becker’s trademark style, much is left to be discovered in each illustration.

Stickler Loves the World by Lane Smith

2 time Caldecott Honoree Lane Smith has come out with what very well might win him the medal in Stickler. The mixture of techniques and media he appears to use in the story are incredible and oftentimes play with the words. On top of the illustrations that every committee must consider, it’s a book that kids and adults would love to read. Stickler is hilarious and yet endearing and thoughtful. And yet it has a message that would get adults wanting to pick it up to read.

How to Write a Poem by Kwame Alexander and Melissa Sweet

This book is showing up on a lot of Caldecott hopeful lists, but I’m torn. Do I love the book? Yes! Are the illustrations amazing? It’s Melissa Sweet. Of course! Do I think it will be the one to win Melissa Sweet the medal? I don’t think so. This is the sequel to How to Read a Book, and that book was not given an honor. Does this book break new ground that the other didn’t? Maybe. Is it enough to distinguish it from its predecessor? Maybe. The quality is worthy of Caldecott buzz at the very least.

Jumper by Jessica Lanan

It’s not very often that a nonfiction book gets picked by a Caldecott committee. I’m even less sure a book about a spider would convince the committee. The art, though, is stunning! Lanan somehow makes a jumping spider into something cute while also showing that same spider jump to trap a fly. The gatefold in the middle of the book to show what a spider’s vision looks like will have readers examining and pondering over for minutes. I’d love to see this also get a Siebert Honor.

Evergreen by Matthew Cordell

Matthew Cordell won the Caldecott with the wordless book Wolf In the Snow. This book reads like a far more traditional tale. The story reminds me of The Gruffalo with the journey through a forest and animal wanting to prey on the scared Evergreen. It also recalls Frog and Toad with the color palette. The muted colors certainly match the forest setting and includes a variety of spreads that certainly elevate the story as required by Caldecott judging. This book follows The Skull in its nontraditional length, but again is no less engaging. Perhaps a committee looking for a more instant classic type of story would choose this story.

An American Story by Kwame Alexander and Dare Coulter

Dare Coulter is relatively unknown. This is something that can entice a Caldecott Committee – look at Doug Salati’s win with Hot Dog last year. It also doesn’t hurt when you have the star power of Kwame Alexander having written the words. Yes, the Caldecott is all about the illustrations, but it’s nearly impossible to separate the words and illustrations of a story. In that same vein, it may also be difficult for the Caldecott Committee to completely forget that another Kwame Alexander book won a Caldecott even though anyone on the committee would tell you that that has no bearing, nor should it, but these are people. Forgetting all that, the artwork is something that would also draw the attention of a Newbery Committee. The masterful interplay of the mixed media spreads and pages is nothing short of groundbreaking. Honestly, it’s something that I’m not generally a fan of, but it’s engrossing in this book.

The storyline in this book, though, may be one that would give a Caldecott Committee pause – would the wrong audience take this book and call it CRT? Would it get the “woke” moniker? Would this book be put right at the top of the book challenges list? I really hope not, but would the right committee decide that they’d rather stay out of politics? At the very least, this should get some recognition from the Coretta Scott King committee.

Tomfoolery: Randolph Caldecott and the Rambunctious Coming-of-Age of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel and Barbara McClintock

Would it be ridiculous and ironic if a book about Randolph Caldecott won the Caldecott Medal? Yes. Could a book about Randolph Caldecott be published if it didn’t have Caldecott-worthy illustrations? I would certainly hope not! This book really does have what it takes to get some Caldecott recognition, surprisingly as it sounds, and is actually a really great book to read if you’re doing a mock Caldecott competition. It gives great background and talks about the art rather perfectly. Do I like books that talk about the competition itself? Usually no, but this one is a welcome exception!

There Was a Party For Langston, King of Letters by Jason Reynolds and the Pumphrey Brothers

I thought that the Caldecott committee might give the Pumphrey brothers some love last year for Somewhere in the Bayou and the year before that for The Old Truck. This is the book that I think could get them some hardware. It has all of the elements you see out of some winners. It will get buzz because of the author Jason Reynolds. The topic is one that would attract the attention of many, and oh yeah, the art is nothing short of innovative and evocative turning words into objects – or is it turning objects into words. This is truly the Pumphrey brothers at their best. If this does not at least get an honor, I would be supremely disappointed. This is also a shoe-in for a Coretta Scott King award.

The Indestructible Tom Crean by Jennifer Thermes

I said it already: Caldecott committees are not famous for liking nonfiction. And then I went and put A LOT of nonfiction books on this list. It goes to show the level that nonfiction books are getting to these days! Publishers are recognizing the importance of visual representations in books to today’s children. Could a nonfiction book about an essentially unknown man somehow get a Caldecott recognition? I think it might! The book is that good! This book should at the very least get a Siebert award.

Caldecott Predictions 2024

Based on these 10 books and what I’ve seen and heard in the community, unless something new comes out in the next month, here are my predictions:

Caldecott Medal: There Was a Party For Langston

Caldecott Honor: The Tree and the River, The Skull, and Jumper

There Was a Party For Langston has something different about it that really makes it stand out. As I said earlier, the star power of Jason Reynolds, the diverse subject of the story, and the the innovative use of word art give this book much to be talked about.

The three books that I chose as honorees really provide a diverse set of books to round out the awards – a wordless, dystopian children’s story with an environmental angle, a dark, long and yet magnetic horror fairytale, and a nonfiction story that somehow makes a spider eating a fly into something cute.

Could there potentially be more honorees? In this field, yes. I’d love to see Stickler get some love. It’s so endearing and will be a book that teachers, librarians and kids will read and laugh at for years. Tomfoolery is also an obvious pick with it being about Randolph Caldecott and the award could serve to cement that book’s and the award’s popularity.

Conclusion: Mock Caldecott 2024 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!


Mock Caldecott 2024 Activities TPT

Share with a Colleague:

Other Posts You Might Like:

Picture Book Brain Logo

Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

find what you need

become a member

find books you need

Get free training

Have a question?

membership info