Story Time Guides: Interacting with Caldecott Books

The Randolph Caldecott Medal was suggested by Frederic G. Melcher and established in 1937 and is awarded annually to an artist who has created the most distinguished picture book of the previous year.

Caldecott medal winning picture books are beautiful and make story time even more of an enriching experience. With the book and some of the resources below, you’ll have some more ideas to get kids excited about reading and interacting with books.

Hello, Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall (2019 Winner)

This book tells the story of a lighthouse keeper whose devotion for his lighthouse has no match – except for that of his family. Journey through the pages as you’ll flow with the waves, break through fog, and keep the light shining bright!

This is a longer book that would pair well with 2 shorter books to break up the flow and keep little ones attentions. Resources below follow a “at the beach” or “ocean” themed story time.

Resources:

  • Lighthouse Craft – This craft uses simple shapes to make a lighthouse. Shapes can be simplified even further to just the lighthouse tube and top cone and lights for younger kids, and all the shapes can be included for older kids. Perfect activity for gluing skills and hand-eye coordination.
  • Animals in the Ocean Song – To the tune of “Wheels on the Bus” and could be paired with hand movements, this song would get kids up and moving, as well as thinking about what animals you can find in the ocean.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe (2017 Winner)

Jean-Michel is a child who wants nothing more than to be an artist; with tools in his hands constantly, his world is splattered with color and he uses art to both express and heal himself. This book is a history lesson detailing the path of a groundbreaking artist, but also an encouraging call of creative freedom.

This book would work well with a story time theme on art.

Resources:

  • Art Activities – Includes a mixture of painting, multimedia collage, food art, scavenger hunts and more.
  • Collage – Collage gives kids an opportunity to mix and match their favorite things – like stickers, drawing, and even painting – while giving them full free expression of the idea in their minds.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat (2015 Winner)

Beekle is a creature waiting for a friend – but when he isn’t called to be one, what is he to do? Instead of sitting around and waiting, he decides to go and look for his friend! This journey is long and strange, but in the end he finds exactly what he’s been looking for.

This book would pair well with other books about “friends”, “adventures”, “imagination”, or “courage”.

Resources:

  • Unimaginary Party Kit – Contains discussion questions, ideas for games, and other activity sheets that include mazes and matching.
  • Create a Friend – Could use any materials on hand, not just play-doh.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (2013 Winner)

A tiny fish has just stolen a tiny blue hat. But it’s okay! The hat didn’t fit the other fish anyways. So it’s fine … right? This book pairs the dialogue with visual humor to have children use visual cues to figure out the story.

This book would pair well with the other books in Jon Klassen’s “hat” series (I Want My Hat Back and We Found a Hat), as well as Caps for Sale. Could be used for a story time theme on “hats”, “clothing”, “fish” or “ocean animals”

Resources:

  • Jon Klassen Activity Sheet Set – Paired with Klassen’s book I Want My Hat Back this activity sheet set includes art activities that are well suited for pre-school students, as well as mazes and cross-words that are suitable for older kids.
  • “Who took my hat?” game – played like “Heads Up 7-Up” all the kids in your room get an object to have on the desk or floor in front of them. A few more kids in your room will be the ones to “steal” the objects. The kids sitting down will close their eyes as the ones who are “it” will choose one child each to “steal” the objects from. Once the children who are “it” are back at the front of the room, the children who had their objects stolen had to guess who took it. Each child gets one guess. Players change turns so that everyone gets a shot at being “it”. Can be modified to fit the number of kids in your room.

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (2012 Winner)

A wordless board book, A Ball for Daisy is a great opportunity to let kids make up a story to go with the pictures. It’s a simple story of a dog named Daisy who loves her red ball very much, but when it pops at the park she goes through a range of emotions – shocked, distressed, eventually ending with sad. Good news though! It ends happily with Daisy getting a brand new blue ball.

Worked into story time it would be easy to incorporate a short lesson on emotions, or even letting your kids draw their own images and tell their own story.

Resources:

  • Storytelling and Expressing Emotions Activities – These activities can be modified to fit pre-school students. While reading the story, have the students “read” Daisy’s emotions; after, have children share their own experiences.
  • Game: Hot Potato or Ball Toss – This would be a perfect opportunity to teach children about sharing and taking turns. In the book Daisy’s ball is taken by another dog and it pops; would this have happened if Daisy had willingly shared? Have your kids broken a toy by accident when having a fight over sharing that toy? Playing a game that involves sharing (such as hot potato) or taking turns (such as a ball toss, cornhole, or even hopscotch) is a good opportunity to reflect the lesson from the book.
  • Craft: Have your kids draw their own image, or set of images, and then tell you what is going on in the pictures. Not only will it expand their creativity, but will make them think about what pictures they’re drawing on the page.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, Illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2011 Winner)

Amos McGee is a zookeeper who keeps a regular schedule – and his animals know it. Every day he plays chess with the elephant, walks races with the tortoise, keeps the penguin company, blows the rhino’s nose, and reads bedtime stories to owl. So what happens when Amos McGee is sick? The animals keep him company, of course!

This story could fit for a variety of story time themes including: Get Well Soon, At the Zoo, or Friends.

Resources:

  • Zoo Animal Memory Game – Print these cards in doubles and lay them out on the floor for a memory game. Kids will take turns flipping over two cards at a time, remembering what animal is under each. For a game with no “winners” kids can work together to match all the animals to have no cards left; for a game with “winners” they can work on their own and see who can pair the most matches.
  • Keep the Germs Away – Songs! – This Johnson County Library story time page has some excellent songs with familiar tunes to help keep it in little one’s minds that washing your hands is VERY important.
  • Coloring Pages

The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (2010 Winner)

This book is a beautiful visual take on the classic from Aesop’s Fables. The little mouse is in danger from owl and finds himself on the back of the lion, safe and secure. So when lion is in trouble, it’s mouse that comes to save the day!

This picture book has no words and could either be improvised by the storyteller, or the children being read to could read the pictures to tell the story themselves. Could be paired well with other fables or fairy tales.

Resources:

  • Lion Mane Mask – Could be modified to use crayons if the suggested materials are not available.
  • Lion and Mouse Stick Puppets – Children could cut these out and glue them themselves to practice scissor and gluing skills.

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, Illustrated by Beth Krommes (2009 Winner)

“Here is the key to the house. In the house burns a light. In that light rests a bed. On that bed waits a book…” so The House in the Night begins. Page by page we’re taken deeper in to the story, into the book and imagination of the child who is really only a background character. This book has wonderful repetition and would be great in recalling the order of things since the book repeats itself and ends back where it started.

This book would work well with a story time theme of bedtimes.

Resources:

  • Read Along Video – This video highlights the words as they’re read on the screen. The story is read slowly to allow time to look at the pictures.
  • Sleeping Bag Craft – This craft could be modified by replacing the princess image with a teddy bear, or even a small child outline. Recalling from the book you could get the child to think about what is on their bed, or near it around bedtime. Have them decorate their sheet/sleeping bag to illustrate this.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster, Illustrated by Chris Raschka (2006 Winner)

With pictures echoing the crayon drawings of small children, this book tells the story of an imaginative little girl who is staying over at her grandparents house and the window in their kitchen. It’s not just any window though, it’s a Hello, Goodbye window – it’s a place where magic can happen!

This book would pair well with books about grandparents or families, as well as concepts such as opposites.

Resources:

  • Teacher’s Guide – This guide includes some good questions to ask while reading the book, as well as activity suggestions relating to: reflections, windows, foods, and opposites.
  • Opposites Song
  • Outside My Window Craft – Could be modified to use materials that you have. Example: kids could draw something they see (or could see) outside the window presently or at home, then a paper “window pane” could be added atop the drawing.

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Keven Henkes (2005 Winner)

It’s little kitten’s first full moon and she thinks the moon is a big bowl of milk. Her quest to drink the milk has her pouncing off the porch, tromping through the garden, and climbing trees. Little does she know the surprise that awaits her back on the porch … an actual bowl of milk!

This book would pair well with books about the moon, shapes, or cats.

Resources:

  • Moon Painting
  • Songs and Rhymes about the Moon – Some could be matched with hand movements, stretching, or dancing
  • Cat Puppet – Puppets are a great way to retell a story, or get kids to create their own story. This craft could be modified to use the paper bag and draw on the face, only needing to cut out the ears.

For more information on the Caldecott Medal, visit the ALA website for details.

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