Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mock Newbery Book Club

I've posted on Twitter & Instagram several photos of books coming in for my Mock Newbery book club and it's been generating a lot of talk on social media. Many people simply want to know -- What is it? How did I get started? Where did I find all the books? I hope that this post can help answer some common questions and help get others started with Mock Newbery.

Before I answer some questions, I do want to be upfront. I've never participated in Mock Newbery before but I knew this is something I wanted had to do in my classroom. So, where did I get my information? Well, I started out by asking friends about their experiences. I went to a session on Mock Newbery at Nerd Camp and then I did lots and lots of research on the internet including joining groups on Goodreads and checking out various blogs by "gurus" of education. Hopefully, my research can help you out!

What is it? That was the most asked question on social media. Mock Newbery is essentially a "mock" or fake Newbery committee made up of students. Students read books that are getting lots of buzz or praise that may be Newbery contenders for the medal in January. Students read the books and analyze the books as would committee members on the actual Newbery Committee. Students look for ways books are distinguished in topic, characters, style and theme. You can check out the Newbery Criteria {here} but be warned it's not super kid friendly. I'm working a way to get it more kid appropriate.

The rules for Mock Newbery are simple. Books must be written within the year of the medal, so all books must have a 2016 publishing date for the 2017 medal. Also, all authors must be American citizens or residents of the United States. Lastly, books to be considered should add a "contribution to American literature."

Everyone has their own opinions and ways of running a Mock Newbery Club. Therefore, I did quite a bit of research just to see how others ran a Mock Newbery Club. Here are a few resources that I found really helpful as I started my Mock Newbery journey back in May.

All links will directly take you to the Newbery posts/articles.

Kids Talk Kid Lit Blog 

North Oakview Library Mock Newbery

Literacy for Big Kids Mock Newbery

#MockNewbery Twitter search

School Library Journal Mock Newbery List

ALA Newbery Winners 1922 - Present

After reading some posts and getting my ideas forming, I decided it was time to start thinking about a list! I bounced lots of titles off friends and other Mock Newbery participants. I set my list at the end of last year knowing I wanted to create a Donors Choose to get my books by August. Thankfully, my project was funded and I will have plenty of books to share around. I do not know if all books would be considered "distinguished" by the actual Newbery panel but I chose books that spoke to me and would open up doors for my students. There are several other books that I wish I had on my list and I may add them or recommend them as time goes on but alas I had to stop somewhere!

Twitter gave me tons of inspiration!

Mock Newbery stack from my amazing friend and fellow 
#BookJourney member Scott Fillner (@sfillner)

Here's a few other lists I used to help get me started:

Mr. Shu's Goodreads Mock Newbery 2017 List

Goodreads Popular Mock Newbery Books

Mock Newbery & Caldecott 2017 List

For Those About to Mock 2017 Contenders

My List: 
To keep things manageable and keep discussions going, I set up a monthly reading list. Students will be asked to read at least one book on the monthly list in order to participate in that month's committee meeting. Students may always read ahead but I want students to be able to form sub-committees to discuss thoughts on the same book each month. I've also aligned my choices with book releases and units of study so that students can also be reading these books for class activities / book clubs as well.

In my list I tried to incorporate various styles, genres, topics and reading levels. Hence, you'll find higher level historical fiction like Wolf Hollow and some lower level realistic fiction like Weekends with Max and his Dad all on my list. Roller Girl was an honor book last year, so I did also add Ghosts (released in October) to my list as well. Added incentive, the Mock Newbery crew are the first to read my four copies! I'm also championing debut authors like Jenn Bishop, Melanie Conklin and Elly Swartz because their novels all touched me in a very special way.

There are so many ways you could run a Mock Newbery club. Some teachers do it school wide, grade wide, or even as an entire class. Others make it an optional after school activity. Your level of comfort and interest are your only limits.

This year, being my first year, I'm holding an optional book club with just my team of 120 students. Since our school has nearly 2,400 students -- school wide was not something I felt comfortable running my first year. In fifth grade alone we have nearly 800 students so I wasn't quite ready to tackle a grade level after school activity as well. Thus, I decided to start small with just my team. I'm hoping for about 30-40 participants out of our 120 students. Our school has quite a few rules about holding after school activities so for this year my teaching partner and I will run our Book Club during our FLEX (intervention) period in which we have two 30 minute blocks that we could combine for an up to an hour of book club time. We plan on holding 1-2 meetings a month for an 30 minutes - hour during this time period. I'm still working with other teachers to coordinate this effort but I think this will work best for our team. I'm hoping that every other Friday, we can meet just like a real life book club and discuss what we've been reading. I also have some author Skype sessions in the works as well as a few other "fun" activities planned leading up to the awards in January.

To get started, I created a letter to pass out at Open House so that parents know about this great opportunity as well as the students. The book list is on the back of the letter so that students may start reading early if they choose! It's never too early to start the buzz. I also plan on going over this whole class within the first few weeks of school and passing out another letter/tentative sign-up.

Since we do not know all the important dates of our building, I haven't set an official calendar but I'm hoping to set all my dates by the end of August. I also plan on having one meeting in August to introduce books and talk about some of the Newbery criteria and expectations. I'm currently working teasers for each our September books to get all the students excited about joining Mock Newbery Book Club!

What other questions do you have?
Who else is considering Mock Newbery?
I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments!



  1. This is such an amazing idea! I was wondering about it with your posts and this blog explains everything. Thank you! I'm gonna do my research this year and gather books and hopefully start it next school year! :)

    1. That's awesome! I did the same thing last year! I followed my friends & saw everything they did a day I was much braver to try it out this year!!

  2. Yay! So excited to see your post on Twitter! Okay couple questions: are they going to read the WHOLE book? I found a couple blogs where they just read part of it?
    Also, how many books of each did you get?

    A lot of what you said is what I am thinking too. So excited! My Ss are 4th graders though, so I know coming in some books might be too difficult.

    1. Hi!

      I have between 4-8 copies of each book. I have 20-25 copies per month. Some books I already had copies of so I counted those as well. In total I think I have 84 books. Some books I want to use for book clubs next year so did get more copies of those books.

      I plan on having the kids read the entire book. I ask that read FIVE total by January so think a book a month is completely feasible. If they can't read five,I'd never kick them out so it'll be honor system! Literacy for Big Kids did it with 4th & 5th last year - she has great advice! I put my deeper texts in December to help give them time to prepare!

    2. Perfect! I've been reading yours and Stacey's posts trying to get a general idea of how I'm going to run things. It's going to have to be where I get all of the 4th graders on board and have them come to me. I know my two classes alone I won't have all of them excited or able to join, so if I could get about 30 kids that would be ideal. Thank you so much!

  3. I love this post Amanda!! I learned so much more about Mock Newbery from you! Thank you for sharing your journey and research. This really added to the notes I took during this session at #nErDcampMI!

    1. Thanks Angie! I figured I'd start the conversation and can't wait to learn more as the year goes on!

  4. I'm excited to try this and I'm going to get a Donor's Choose ready to be able to purchase the books.

    1. That's awesome! Share your link on social media, I'm happy to donate!

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  7. This is the first time I've seen your blog. I read your review of Wish and I too, loved this story. About your Mock Newbery Club, I have had a Mock Newbery Club for a number of years. I began reading so many books over the summer to choose books that I thought were worthy and that club members would enjoy and look at seriously with regard to the criteria. Ultimately I decided after several years two important things: Kids needed more choice and the club needed to run year round. I liked the format from The Eva Perry Mock Newbery Club which has a website associated with a public library in North Carolina. So students in grades 4,5,6 could keep up with books and write reviews, I registerd our club on the Biblionasium site. It is secure and only our members can see the reviews of our members. I post titles each month. The book covers appear along with a short synopsis and kids can choose what they want to read in amy given month. We meet once a month and talk about books we've read. We also read reviews others in the club have written during the month. We vote in early January and wait for the announcement. We celebrate and then take off a few weeks and begin again in February with the new year's books as they are released. It has been very successful so far. We chose the winner the year before last. We were totally surprised with this year's winner. Students get their books from libraries, ours or public libraries and some purchase them. We read a great many more books this way and have a better chance to read a winner. Good luck with your new endeavor. I can't wait to read how yours is working out. I have learned a great deal from other clubs around the country too. Kathleen Armstrong

  8. HI Amanda, Thanks for the great, informative post on how you run your Mock Newbery. Having students read 1 book/month to attend meetings seems very fair and reasonable, as is the option to choose the book. One question: would you mind sharing the letter you send home to parents? It would be greatly appreciated! Best, arika @librarianarika

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  12. At this time of year (January 7th) would the greatly shared 2017 book lists work?

    Thanks, I am excited to offer this as an independent reading activity in my class next year!

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