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The 2020 Mock Caldecott Books (+ Printable Score Sheet)

Looking for a printable copy the 2020 Mock Caldecott score sheet? Pop in your email below and it’ll come right to your inbox!

For the past two years, I’ve put together a Mock Caldecott list and I’ve loved having so many of you participate in reading and picking your own winners, and then comparing them to the official Caldecott winners chosen by the American Library Association in late January.

The 2020 Caldecott Winners will be named on January 27th in Philadelphia which means it’s time for a 2020 Mock Caldecott Book List!

If you’re unfamiliar with the Caldecott award, it’s an award given to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book published in the previous year (“most distinguished” according to the panel of judges made up of librarians and other people involved in children’s literature that year – you have to be elected or appointed to be one of the judges).

Each year, the winner (and any chosen Honor books) are awarded in January or early February at the American Library Association conference.

I’ve been able to attend this conference a couple of times (once in Boston in 2010, once in Dallas in 2012 and last year in Seattle) and it is quite an experience to be in the room when those awards are announced.

If you think of librarians as quiet and reserved . . . well, this award ceremony would DEFINITELY change your mind. They just about blow the roof off with their cheers and screams.

I’ve participated in a few Mock Caldecott discussions in the past – when I was in graduate school and taking a children’s literature class, my professor held one at the end of the semester (she’d actually served on the Caldecott committee at one point, so she knew what she was talking about).

Then, when I was a student librarian, the (fabulous) librarian I trained with did her own Caldecott with her elementary school students each year. The following year, when I was a librarian with my own two schools, I did my own mock Caldecott award with the second graders.

It was SO fun and one of the highlights of the school year.

caldecott winners 2020

I made a short list of contenders and we read them all together over a week or two. We talked about what makes a book “distinguished” and the Caldecott criteria.

It’s pretty short criteria, actually, but it talks about Caldecott books being a VISUAL experience, with the story or theme developing primarily via pictures, rather than resting mostly on the text. It also has to have children as the intended audience and respect their understanding and abilities, and have both artistic excellence and appropriateness to the the topic and audience.

Now that I don’t work in a library, it’s really fun to do as a family and see how our picks matched up with what actually won, and I’ve been delighted by how many of you joined us the past two years!

If you’d like to do it again this year, I’ve come up with a list of possible Caldecott books and have checked out as many of them from the library as I can.

I printed off score sheets with a list of all the titles of the Caldecott books I chose and then as we read them, we rate them according to the Caldecott criteria.

I spent a long time reviewing books that are getting buzz as Caldecott contenders, so your odds of at least one of them being picked as a Caldecott winner or honor are pretty good!

I made a score sheet with each of the 28 titles and then the four criteria:

  1. How well is the art executed? (Basically, is this good art?)
  2. How does the art match the story? Is the style and medium a good fit for the tone and feeling of the storyline or theme? (In a nutshell, if it’s a happy, cheerful book, does the art reflect that, or if it’s a serious, sad book, does that art match that?)
  3. Is the art important to the story? (Do you get insight into the story, the characters, or additional details through the art that you wouldn’t get if you were just reading the text without any art?)
  4. Does it have a child audience in mind? The award isn’t for the most popular book, but it does need to have children as the primary audience.

On the score sheet, there’s a spot after every book to score it on each piece of the criteria between 1-5. Once we read all the books, we tally up all the scores and determine our Caldecott winner, plus pick a few Honor books (there is technically no limit to how many Honor books can be chosen, but it’s usually 2-4).

And if you’d like a copy of the score sheet with all the book titles printed on it, you can grab a free printable copy here!

Here are the 29 Caldecott books on our score sheet this year:

  1. Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
  2. Because by Mo Willems
  3. The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome
  4. A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin
  5. Dancing Hands by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López
  6. Double Bass Blues by Andrea J. Loney, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
  7. Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare
  8. Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
  9. Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter
  10. Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Evans
  11. Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis
  12. Lubna and Pebble by Wendy Meddour, illustrated by Daniel Egneus
  13. Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley
  14. My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña
  15. Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin
  16. Not Your Nest! by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi
  17. A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
  18. Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar
  19. River by Elisha Cooper
  20. Saturday by Oge Mora
  21. The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry, illustrated by The Fan Brothers
  22. There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach
  23. Tomorrow Most Likely by Dave Eggers
  24. Truman by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
  25. The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  26. ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market by Raúl the Third
  27. Vroom! by Barbara McClintock
  28. Why? by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  29. You Are Home : An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk

And if you’d like a copy of the printable score sheet I made, just plug in your email here and I’ll send you a copy right away!

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  1. This is so fun! I just put 1, 2, 11, 13, 15, 18, and 29 on my holds list at my library. Always love your recommendations and I appreciate the work you put into lists like these. : )

  2. Thanks so much for the fantastic list & scorecard! I’ve always wanted to do this. I just went to the library with your list and checked out a bunch to read with my kids. Question: how did you attend the ALA conferences?? Can anyone go or do you have to be a librarian?

  3. Janssen, your girls are so blessed to have you for their mom. Reading is a heavenly activity in your house I can tell! Thank you for all you do to make literacy so important. As a retired language arts teacher, I so appreciate all you do for families!

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