- Beyond the Classroom
- In the Classroom
Cheri Dobbs, Middle School Librarian
You may have heard of the Newbery or Caldecott medals for young people’s literature, but have you heard of the Golden Jacket medal? Based on an idea from a current 7th grader, our Middle School will now be awarding the Golden Jacket Book Award medal to the students’ choice of the best book of the year. Some schools have a similar experience that they refer to as a “mock Newbery'' award, but the students and I came up with the name Golden Jacket as a play on our Yellowjacket mascot and, of course, book jackets! As soon as we launched this award in January, the reading frenzy started!
So how did this reading frenzy begin? Back in the fall, I invited students from 4th - 8th grades to apply to join the Golden Jacket Book Award Committee. I chose two students from each grade, and those students have been meeting with me to choose our book nominees and to create posters and other promotional materials. They also helped create the rules for the award process and created incentives for participating. We decided that it made sense to have book nominees in two categories – Middle Grades (books for 4th - 6th grades) and Young Adult (books for 7th-8th grades), and we decided to focus on books published in 2021 or late 2020. The committee and I came up with nine Middle Grades books and ten Young Adult books that represent a variety of genres and diverse literary experiences. We have multiple copies of each book in the library, digital copies in Sora, and audiobook copies in Sora too. Students can also get the books from their public library or from a bookstore. Each English teacher shared the Golden Jacket information with their students, and students have come to the Library for booktalks about the nominees as well. Students were so excited about reading these books that the books immediately flew off the shelves, and I bought even more copies. To date, students have logged their responses to the nominated books nearly 200 times, and the Golden Jacket books are constantly checked out!
Any student who reads at least three of the books in their grade-level category and logs their responses by May 13th will be able to vote for our Golden Jacket Book Award winner. Students who read more than three books are eligible for a variety of rewards as well. Some students have been reluctant to participate because they don’t think they could read all of the books by May – it’s definitely a big ask. However, students need to read only three books in order to participate in voting, and I tell them that it would be great if they just read one of the books and enjoyed the story. We’re already planning next year’s Golden Jacket Book Awards, and we’ll start in September or October to give students the whole year to read.
Why should a student participate in reading the Golden Jacket nominees? To experience great books and to join in the fun! The Golden Jacket Book Award Committee made sure that there was something for everyone on our list of nominees, including graphic novels, nonfiction, and everything in between. With Spring Break coming up, now is the perfect time to start reading if your child hasn’t already.