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The Mock Caldecott 2024 List

Looking for a printable copy the 2024 Mock Caldecott score sheet? Pop in your email below and it’ll come right to your inbox!


This my seventh year of hosting a (very low-key) Mock Caldecott list and I’ve loved having so many of you participate in reading and picking your own winners from the Caldecott nominees (there are no official Caldecott nominees – this list is full of books getting a lot of buzz and who I think would be nominated if there were nominees), and then comparing them to the official Caldecott winners chosen by the American Library Association each winter.

The 2024 Caldecott Winners will be named on January 22nd which means it’s time for a 2024 Mock Caldecott Book List (the live stream will be here).

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 – usually 3 or 4)) are awarded in January or early February at the American Library Association conference and watching the live stream of the announcements is one of my favorite things of the year.

When we lived in Boston and I was an elementary school librarian, ALA Midwinter was held in Boston (perfect timing!) and because the announcements were made on MLK Day, I was out of school and was able to be at the announcements in person which was one of the highlights of my professional life. You cannot IMAGINE the energy of thousands of children and young adult book lovers packed in a room ROARING with joy when their favorite books snagged awards.

I’ve done Mock Caldecotts as a grad student, as a student librarian and as an elementary school librarian and now it’s really fun to do as a family and see how our picks match up with what actually won.

I’ve loved having so many of you join in the fun with your classrooms or families over the past few years and 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 a Caldecott honor book are pretty good.

I made a score sheet with each of the books 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 Caldecott Honor books (there is technically no limit to how many Caldecott Honor books can be chosen, but it’s usually 2-4).

If you’d like a copy of the score sheet with all the Caldecott nominee book titles on it, pop in your email address below and it’ll come straight to your inbox!


The other thing I always reminded my students of and do the same with my kids now is that it’s okay if the judges choose different things than you do. Some years, you might quirk an eyebrow at their picks and other years they might be right in line with the books you picked as winners. That’s part of the fun – if we all had exactly the same taste and liked exactly the same things, there wouldn’t be any suspense about the picks because we’d all choose the same titles.

Here are the 30 books I put on my Mock Caldecott list this year (this is a BIG list because it’s so disappointing when your library only has a handful and I wanted to increase the odds that you could get a fat stack of options to read and rate together! For younger kids, this can be WAY overwhelming, so feel free to pick 5-10 and just compare those. There are no rules that say you need to read all 30! Make it fun for your family or classroom, not something stressful or overwhelming).

caldecott books

The 2024 Mock Caldecott List

  1. Remember by Joy Harjo, illustrated by Michaela Goade
  2. Big by Vashti Harrison
  3. Stickler Loves the World by Lane Smith
  4. The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker
  5. Once Upon a Book by Kate Messner, illustrated by Grace Lin
  6. When Rubin Plays by Gracey Zhang
  7. A Walk in the Woods by Nikki Greimes, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
  8. Nell Plants a Tree by Anne Wynter, illustrated by Daniel Miyares
  9. Tomfoolery! Randolph Caldecott and the Rambunctious Coming-of-Age of Children’s Books illustrated by Barbara McClintock, written by Michelle Markel
  10. All the Beating Hearts illustrated by Cátia Chien, written by Julie Fogliano
  11. In the Night Garden by Carin Berger
  12. The Skull by Jon Klassen
  13. My Powerful Hair illustrated by Steph Littlebird, written by Carole Lindstrom
  14. Make Way: The Story of Robert McCloskey, Nancy Schön, and Some Very Famous Ducklings illustrated by Claire Keane, written by Angela Burke Kunkel
  15. I’m From illustrated by Oge Mora, written by Gary R. Gray
  16. The Fire of Stars: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars Are Made Of illustrated by Katherine Roy, written by Kirsten W. Larson
  17. An American Story illustrated by Dare Coulter, written by Kwame Alexander
  18. Evergreen by Matthew Cordell
  19. Jumper: A Day in the Life of a Backyard Jumping Spider by Jessica Lanan
  20. Cape illustrated by Kitt Thomas, written by Kevin Johnson
  21. There Was a Party for Langston, King of Letters illustrated by Jerome and Jarrett Pumphrey, written by Jason Reynolds
  22. When the Stars Came Home illustrated by Natasha Donovan, written by Brittany Luby
  23. How Do You Spell Unfair?: Macnolia Cox and the National Spelling Bee illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Carole Boston Weatherford
  24. In Every Life by Marla Frazee
  25. Beneath by Cori Doerrfeld
  26. Finding Papa by Angela Pham Krans
  27. This Is a Story by John Schu
  28. If I Was a Horse by Sophie Blackall
  29. Our Pool by Lucy Ruth Cummins
  30. Sometimes It’s Nice to Be Alone by Amy Hest, illustrated by Philip Stead

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  1. Yay – excited to read some fun picture books again after all the Christmas ones are put away. I requested a bunch from the library. Thank you for doing this.

  2. I tried to stay a little more on top of book buzz this year in preparation for the YMAs and I’m pleased to say that I’ve already about half of these books! I just requested the rest of them from the library. Can’t wait to sit down and read through them!

  3. I LOVE this idea! Thank you for making the list and creating this post. I will definitely be adding this to my kids’ homeschool lit and art study over the next few weeks so we can all cast our votes and see the results. Thanks again!

  4. Thank you so much for including In the Night Garden on this list of remarkable books! I am honored to be beside so many of my book making heros!

    Thank you also for the clear explanation of the Caldecott Award.

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