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Books, Headline, Parenting

Caldecott Books

ox-cart-man1I am a reader. According to my grandmother, when I was young I would set my alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier than I needed to get up for school, just so I could read. I don’t remember that, and as I am also a sleeper I can hardly believe it (though I do).

I do remember that I would stand on my bed at night and rest my book on the windowsill, where I could read by the light of the moon.

Recently, through Facebook, I heard from a person I went all through elementary and high school with. He told me that he has a daughter now who is a voracious reader. He told me that growing up he’d never seen anyone who read so much and enjoyed books as much as I did, and now he sees the same thing in his own daughter. He told me that sometimes when he looks at her he is reminded of me.

I, too, have a child who loves books now, and it is a wonderful thing.

The kindergarteners at her school are doing a “Caldecott Challenge.” That’s where she and the other students have to read at least 10 Caldecott Medal books, and then they get to participate in a special something-or-other at the school’s library.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published that year. It was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. Together with the Newbery Medal, it is the most prestigious American children’s book award.

The school library has a bookshelf filled only with books that won the Caldecott Medal, and everyday we have been bringing one or two of those books home and reading them before bed.

What wonderful books. The librarian said something to me about how they do this Caldecott Challenge to introduce kids to other literature, so they aren’t only reading Arthur and Fancy Nancy.

I don’t mind Arthur or Fancy Nancy, but I am charmed to my toes reading most of these award-winning books with the beautiful illustrations. As is my daughter. We look at each picture, and discuss them, and talk about the story. We are really enjoying them together.

Here is a list of all the Caldecott winners (one per year). Really consider picking up some of these books for the children on your Christmas list, or buying from this list for birthdays. These beautiful children’s books are enriching our lives.

Some that we have read and enjoyed recently include:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • The Little House
  • The Little Island
  • A Tree Is Nice
  • Chanticleer and the Fox
  • May I Bring a Friend?
  • Noah’s Ark
  • Ox-Cart Man
  • The Polar Express
  • Lon Po Po
  • Grandfather’s Journey
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria
  • Rapunzel
  • Flotsam

We both especially liked (if we have to narrow it down) Ox-Cart Man and Flotsam. That was hard to narrow down, and really I’d like to add most of the other books to that list, too.

I know this assignment is for my daughter, but I truly feel like it’s for me, too, because I am enjoying the books so much. It’s like getting to be a kid all over again.



  1. Janice Crowl December 7, 2009 5:52 pm

    Hi Leslie —

    Had a peek at FBI blogs website today and of course the word “Caldecott” on your blog caught my eye!

    My favorite Caldecott winner is Zen Shorts, by John Muth. It made me into a fan of his works…Second graders and up really enjoy Stillwater the Panda.

    Ox Cart Man and and Mrs. Rumphius were favorites of my two children too (now grown into one teen and one adult)…

    It’s true…reading to your kids is like getting to be a kid all over again. And these days you see artwork that is exceptionally beautiful too. Enjoy!

  2. Cynthia Peterson December 22, 2009 1:05 pm

    This one’s a nice book, but I have my fingers crossed for “Tsunami!” by Kimiko Kajikawa, with illustrations by Ed Young. It’s a beautiful book based on a heartwarming (and really exciting!) Japanese folktale. This book should surely get a nod…

    • Leslie Lang December 22, 2009 3:17 pm

      I will check out that book, too, Cynthia. Thanks!