So, I like a challenge.
I participate in the #bookaday challenge each summer.
I work out with a personal trainer…that is a challenge each and every time I go.
A challenge I took on about a year and half ago, that I thought was going to be relatively easy, was the #nerdcott Challenge. This means that I decided I was going to read ALL Caldecott Medal Winners AND Caldecott Honor Books within a certain time frame. I think I gave myself a summer to complete it…as part of #bookaday. Well, that did not happen. I read a bunch of them that summer, but not all of them. I did not give up on my challenge, however, I just extended it….and extended it…and extended it. See, the Caldecott Medal has been given out since 1938. There is always one winner and then between 3-6 honor books. Many of these books were easy to get from my local public libraries and my own personal school library. But, many of these books were NOT SO EASY to get. Once I had read everything at the public library and at my school library, I had to seek out other sources. My first stop was the South Carolina Center for Children’s Books and Literacy. I thought at one time they had a complete collection of all Caldecotts, but I learned that I was mistaken. The day I went there to read, they only had about 4 that I could check off my list. The director of the SCCCBL suggested Thomas Cooper Library and I am so glad she did. I was able to get a library card from Thomas Cooper (a perk of being an active alumni AND adjunct professor) and I spent a morning trying to find some of the books I was missing. The thing about Thomas Cooper is that it is organized not by Dewey Decimal, but by Library of Congress. I have never understood how to find a book using the Library of Congress AND they keep their children’s collection on the very bottom floor, so I couldn’t find anything and I thought I was going to die. That day was not fun, BUT, I came home with a stack to read! After reading my stack, I remembered that…HELLO…I could request what I needed online and have them all waiting for me at the circulation desk , so that’s what I did for the rest of the titles. Many of them were right there at Thomas Cooper, but most were at USC – Upstate. Got the books, read the books, and completed my challenge!
So, I read 338 Caldecotts. So what? What did I learn?
1. I am SO GLAD that people like Mo Willems, David Wiesner, Jon Klassen, and others are making books right now. I am SO GLAD that the folks on Caldecott committees give them awards, because people who may not have otherwise picked up their books are doing so and sharing them with kids. This is good stuff. Funny stuff. Smart stuff.
2. I am SO GLAD and PROUD to be a Children’s Librarian and to know about these books. Even if you don’t have little people to read these books with, you should totally read them yourself. Just as works of art, if nothing else…you go to a museum to look at art, don’t you? Pick up a Caldecott and stare at that on your couch. It’s like a portable museum.
3. There are some excellent books from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s that need to be shared so that they aren’t forgotten. Start your own #nerdcott challenge and check out some gems.
4. Children’s books = BEAUTIFUL art.
5. Marie Hall Ets and Clare Turlay Newberry are two illustrators that have been on the list MANY times and I’m not sure if I knew of them before this challenge. I’m so glad I know of them now. Lovely work.
Finally, I can’t read that many books without having some favorites…so, my TOP 10 Caldecotts are (in no particular order):
1. Bill Peet: An Autobiography by Bill Peet – Even though the point of a Caldecott award is to highlight the illustrations of a book, I REALLY enjoyed READING this one. A very interesting autobiography of Bill Peet. Good one for Disney fans, actually.
2. What Do You Say, Dear? by Sesyle Joslin; illustrated by Maurice Sendak – A silly book of manners. Whimsical illustrations.
3. Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer; pictures by Marvin Bileck – So colorful. Love!
4. Marshmallow by Clare Turlay Newberry – A story about a bunny and a cat.
5. The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss; illustrated by Marc Simont – A book about welcoming Spring.
6. Bear Party by William Pene du Bois – Bears have to wear costumes to recognize each other. Very funny.
7. Fish for Supper by MB Goffstein – Simple story about a grandma who gets up at 5am to go fishing for her dinner.
8. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – I’ve always loved this one. Might be more for sentimental reasons, but the illustrations are fantastic. You know that.
9. Grandpa Green by Lane Smith – Love how the story is told in the trees. This is one of those books that grown ups understand better than kids.
10. Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen – You will want to rip this book up to frame the pages and hang them on your wall.
And, there you go! Now for my next challenge…I haven’t decided what that will be yet, but whatever it is, I’m looking forward to it 🙂