Berkeley’s Mock Newbery Book Club: It’s Happening Again!

For the second year in a row each Berkeley public elementary school is launching a Mock Newbery Book Club run as part of the district library program funded by the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (Berkeley’s special tax measure in support of public education).

The Newbery Award is the most prestigious literary award for children’s literature in the United States, awarded annually by the American Library Association (ALA). Following the same guidelines as the official ALA Newbery Committee, our students will read and analyze works published in 2017 to determine which author has made the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Here’s how our Mock Newbery Book Club works:

Between now and mid-January, interested 4th and/or 5th grade students (the participating grade level varies school to school) who are participating in their school’s Mock Newbery Book Club will read at least 5 of the 10 nominated books. Listening to the books counts, too, and can make for great read-alouds together at home. Some titles are also becoming available on Tales2Go, our audiobook streaming service.

There are four mandatory meetings (September, November, and two in January) with informal weekly meet-ups in between. The entire Mock Newbery Book Club project is voluntary, from the librarians, literacy coaches and classroom teachers’ time, and of course at the heart of it, the students. The final discussion and vote will happen in early February 2018 before the announcement from ALA. Whether or not we select the same “winner” that they select, we will have some delightful, thought-provoking reading and discussions along the way, which makes us all winners!

Here is the almost finalized current list of nominated titles for the Berkeley Mock Newbery Book Club


To get a close up look, here are some fun journal notes from district library coordinator, Becca Todd, for you to enjoy!

Today, Wed, 9/13. John Muir Elementary School Library. They streamed in. And streamed in. And…kept streaming in! Must have been attentively listening when Ms. Sanders visited their classrooms to invite them to the Mock Newbery book club, in addition to seeing these signs all over the place this past week…


Lit Coach Ms. Sanders and Library Media Specialist Mr. Healey reassured the enthusiastic passel of 4th and 5th graders that there would be many months to read or listen to at least 5 of the 10 nominated Mock Newbery books.

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There were more students than books, so after brief booktalks there was a quick raffle to determine who would be checking out today. “Yay, my name got called!”

"raffle" to check out first Mock Newbery books JM.jpeg

Expect to hear about surges of excitement continuing to ripple throughout the district. Tomorrow – Emerson launches!

Happy reading!

Mock Newbery “Booktalking” at Emerson:

Robust reading at Emerson! At their launch on Thursday (9/14), a student had already read Amina’s Voice and offered to “booktalk” it. (She’s looking down at the book, so Ms. Zoe held it up.)


Lit Coach Ms. Jeannie, Library Media Specialist Ms. Zoe and Berkeley Public Library Librarian Armin had tidbits of insights to offer about all the other titles.

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You might notice some students lurking (dare I say, eavesdropping?) around the edges. That’s because the 3rd graders were allowed to be in the library during lunch recess, sans lunch, so long as they were quiet – which they were!

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Happy Friday, and happy reading!

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