Sunday, December 7, 2008

How to Host a Mock Newbery Discussion

As award season approaches, Mock Newbery discussions start to pop up everywhere. You're interested in holding one, but you're not sure what to do? Last week my coworker J lead a Mock Newbery discussion for our library system. I helped prepare and this is what we did:

Step 1: Decide which books you'll be focusing on. You'll probably know several that are getting some buzz and you can always reference other Mock Newbery lists to get some ideas. Might I suggest Allen County Public Library's list and Anderson's Bookshop's list as two of my personal favorites.

Depending on how much time you have for your discussion, you may want to limit the number of books you're focusing on. For our discussion we provided a list of eight books and also encouraged participants to bring any other books they felt might qualify.

The books on our Mock Newbery list were:

Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Savvy by Ingrid Law
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson

You'll want to make sure to release your list well in advance of your program so that participants have a chance to read all the books.

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the Newbery criteria. J printed out the criteria and brought a copy for each person. That was very helpful to refer to throughout our discussion.

Step 3: Decide on how you will vote and, if you have a limited amount of time, set time limits for discussions. With eight titles and 2.5 hours in which to have our discussion, we set an approximate time limit of 10-15 minutes per book and allowed some extra time to discuss any other books people might bring. After our discussion of each title, we used a weighted voting system where people voted for their top three books in order of preference. A first place vote was worth 4 points, 2nd place was worth 3 points, and 3rd place was worth 2 points.

With a total of 10 people in our discussion group, we decided that the winner needed to win by at least 6 points. We voted and tallied up the votes, then took the top four and voted again.

Step 4: Announce your winner!

And I am happy to announce that the winner of our Mock Newbery was Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson! We also named three honor books: Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes, The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, and We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson.

Step 5: Thank Nina at Nina's Newbery for posting about how she ran her Mock Newbery because that's what helped us figure out ours. :)