Celebrating 18 Years of Picture-Perfect Tradition: OCSD's Mock-Caldecott Party

Celebrating 18 Years of Picture-Perfect Tradition: OCSD's Mock-Caldecott Party

On February 13th, Oneonta City School District celebrated the 100th Day of School with the 18th annual Mock-Caldecott Party. This cherished tradition brings together second-grade Yellowjackets from Riverside, Greater Plains, and Valleyview Elementary Schools. This unique event showcases the creativity and critical thinking of young minds as they choose the best-illustrated picture book for their respective schools – Greatercott, Rivercott, and Valleycott.


Mrs. Jessica Ewing, the Library Media Specialist at Greater Plains Elementary, provided insights into the criteria the students used to evaluate and choose their winner. "The Caldecott Medal is given to the illustrated book with the best illustrations,” she explained. The three criteria her students employed included outstanding illustrations, illustrations that match the story's mood, and illustrations that entice children to read the book.


Mrs. Ewing highlighted the extensive preparation leading up to the event, beginning in September. "We read one Caldecott-winning book per month, discussing the illustrations and why it might have won," she shared. In January, the students engage in the final selection process, narrowing down contenders from an initial pool of around 20 books. The winning books receive a “medal” sticker, and the students often write congratulatory letters to the winning illustrators, who many times, write back!


At Riverside Elementary, Library Media Specialist, Mrs. Debra Hamilton introduced students to the Caldecott by sharing a historical perspective on the medal and its significance. Mrs. Hamilton carefully selected around 25 new books based on previous winners and School Library Journal reviews to prepare for the Mock-Caldecott party. "For multiple library classes, we looked at and read previous Caldecott books and illustrators," Hamilton explained. The students engaged in various activities over the past months, such as interpreting wordless books solely through illustrations.


Mr. Mark Parmerter, the Library Media Specialist at Valleyview Elementary, shared how 2nd-grade library classes studied Caldecott award-winning picture books before their January mock Caldecott unit. This groundwork aimed to expose students to diverse artistic styles, techniques, and materials presented in picture books. Mr. Parmerter emphasized that the Mock-Caldecott unit spanned several weeks, allowing students to evaluate and discuss over 20 of the past year's best-illustrated picture books. He noted, "Voting for Valleycott, Rivercott, & Greatercott award winners and the accompanying mock Caldecott book party is often the favorite activity of the school year for 2nd-grade library classes."


In its 18th year, the OCSD's Mock-Caldecott Party continues to be a beloved tradition, fostering a deep appreciation for the art of illustration among the district's second-grade Yellowjackets. The event celebrates outstanding illustrators and instills a love for reading that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.


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