Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#road2reading Challenge - Mock Geisel update 1.17.17

All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools 
that you may use with readers at the start of their reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.

One thing we know about getting readers onto the #road2reading is it needs to be engaging. Readers want to enjoy the books they are reading.  Of course, we know they need to be supported while they read, but readers should always have a choice of fun books to read.

Isn't it a wonderful thing knowing that this is the first thing mentioned in the Geisel Award criteria.  To be specific:

Criteria: The award shall be given annually to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature that encourages and supports the beginning reader published in English in the United States during the preceding year. There are no limitations as to the character of the book considered except that it will be original and function successfully as a book for beginning readers. Honor Books may be named. These shall be books that are also truly distinguished.

I first came upon the Geisel Award about 4 years ago.  I was more familiar with the Caldecott and Newbery Awards, but the Geisel was new.  But then I saw some familiar books, books that I knew and loved and knew kids knew and loved!  Books by Mo Willems, Cynthia Rylant and Kate DiCamillo.  I quickly set about reading all of the books that had been awarded the Geisel and Geisel Honor Awards (the award has been around since 2006 so it is absolutely doable).  The first thing I noticed was there were books in this mix that had easily decodable text.  And they were good.  Some books were quick, some had chapters.  But they all had fun stories.

Looking for a list of books to use with readers who need text that will support them and stories that are fun?  Then you'll want to check out past Geisel winners.  Here is a list of past winners.

For the past two years we've held a Mock Geisel for our kindergarten students and first grade students.  We're on year three!  This is one of the most fun mocks to run because you're looking for a book that will encourage and support beginning readers.  What does that mean?  We're looking for a book that makes reading fun for our readers.  Great!  We list other criteria that comes from the criteria the Geisel committee uses (here is the official criteria).  The kids' favorite one is talking about does it make you want to turn the page?  They love using that in their conversations!

The hardest part for me is picking out the books to use.  I do not have a good track record!  For the past two years, I've gotten one book correct each year.  But the way I look at it, the kindergarten and first grade students are:

  • being exposed to fantastic literature
  • starting to hold criteria in their minds while listening to books and talking about them with their peers
  • becoming familiar with these books so when they read them again or check them out at the library, they are already familiar with the words in the story
  • understanding that books win awards and those shiny stickers mean something!
This Friday our students will get to vote in their respective grade level Mocks.  The students will enter into a voting carousel and get an official ballot.  After they cast their vote, they'll get "I voted" stickers.  Next Tuesday, all students will gather for a school wide assembly to hear what books our school voted to win for the Mock Geisel, Caldecott and Newbery Awards and watch the recorded webcast.  I know we'll hear shouts and screams of delight and lots of applause.

So what books did we read this year?  What are some books you may want to check out for your #road2reading Challenge?  Here they are:

Crossing my fingers I have more than one book on the winners list this year!  If not, than our students still had a good run!

Are you familiar with these books?  Interested in holding a Mock Geisel?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Be sure to check in with Alyson Beecher of kidlitfrenzy as she talks more about the Geisel Award in her post.

Have a post you would like to link up?  Join us in the #road2reading Challenge!


  1. YES - it's so important to get kids involved in picking the books they read, and introducing kids to books that celebrate their interests. As grownups we want to read books that interest us - funnily enough, so do kids! :-)

  2. I enjoyed Duck, Duck Porcupine, When Spring Comes + Snail & Worm, but I haven't read some of the others, so I'll get on that. One book I loved: Owl Sees Owl :)