Books Parenting

Reading the Caldecott Medal Winners

My oldest child turns 10 this month. That means I’ve been reading children’s books for most days over the last decade. Not to her, anymore; now she reads herself Harry Potter. I still read picture books to my 6-year-old and 2-year-old.

I recently realized (a) that most of my children’s book reading is now behind me (b) I like reading these books (c) there must be many great ones I’ve never read. I spend most of my reading time now on children’s books, not grown-up ones. I ought to make the most of these next few years while that remains the case.

To that end I thought I’d start with the Caldecott Medal winners as an easy entry point. I was reading Where the Wild Things Are and A Sick Day for Amos McGee and explaining the gold sticker (Caldecott medal) on the front covers to my youngest and thought: these are great books. The other Caldecott winners are probably good too, right?

This reading campaigns is quicker than reading all of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winners, or watching all of the Best Picture films. And my local library makes it free and easy: they have a list of all of their Caldecott winners in the collection, with just a click to reserve. The timing is right, too: because of COVID, my kids get less exposure to new books at school or library story hours.

I thought these books would have a long backlog to check out, but in most cases it’s the opposite. There are many copies and few requests. I guess the pedigree outstrips the demand from the public, or interest has waned. Even the 2020 winner, The Undefeated, has copies sitting on shelves right now. I’ve requested the first half-dozen or so, mostly working my way backward chronologically. We read our first one last night, 2016’s Finding Winnie.

A nice haul of Caldecott winners courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library.

I don’t know much about what I’m getting into. After reading the Wikipedia page about the award and its winners, I see this is specifically an award for illustrators, in recognition of their artwork. Indeed, Finding Winnie was a good story with great illustrations. It looks like some of titles will be better suited to my kindergartner, others to the pre-schooler. Good thing I have an audience the right ages to tackle this quest now!

2 replies on “Reading the Caldecott Medal Winners”

I love this project! Curating our family library request list is one of my favorite parent hobbies 🙂 A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a family favorite here. I’ve also found that as we explore and find favorites from lists like the one you’re working your way through, I then go and reserve all of the other books by that author or illustrator from our library. Phillip & Erin Stead have a number of beautifully written and illustrated books like A Sick Day for Amos McGee. I get emails with book recommendations from the website Brightly and A Mighty Girl that I use to fill our library request queue too. Also, the Coretta Scott King Book Award winners are a good source for ethnic and multicultural books and diverse authors.

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