I have a hard time creating a Mock Newbery list. A very hard time. So hard that when I began working on my list, there were sixty titles on there. No exaggeration. It is agonizing. Sheer torture. I add titles, delete some, add a few more. There are several top books that I love, that I believe with my whole heart might be books that are being debated by the Newbery committee this year, yet I don't think they are a good fit for my students. And so I leave them off.
Then there is the issue that I haven't seen everything yet. Books are still coming out, for Pete's sake. There are books out there that I haven't even read yet. (This thought keeps me awake at night. Just one more page.) In that vein, there are five books I haven't even read yet. I know, I know. That's crazy. But in pouring over reviews, looking at other Mock lists, I had to add them. Originally, there were ten I hadn't read, but I read five in the last two weeks, five left.
My goal in creating this list was to find twenty books I felt were good contenders for the Newbery, good fits for my students, and would expose them to a wide variety of what was out there this year. There are many, many, books I love this year that are not on this list. I had to cut somewhere, and this is where I landed. I share this list not to say these thirty - yep, thirty, I couldn't stop at twenty - these thirty are my top books of the year. That list is much longer. These are the top books for my Mock Newbery. Period. They are great books in so many ways. I hope that by sharing them, you find some new books to try and maybe a new favorite or two for yourself.
In case you are wondering how I run this club, a quick word about it. The Mock Newbery is casual. My entire goal is to get kids talking about and discussing these books. We meet four times before the ALA awards. Meetings are once a month in my classroom at lunch. The kids bring their lunch, I bring a dessert. We talk about what they read that month and I allow them to award points to the books they are loving right now. For the first month, they have five points. They can give them all to one book, or split it amongst two (or more.) Each month, they read more books and get more points to award. To attend, they have to read one contender a month. That's it. We have a blast.
So, without further delay, here are the books we will be discussing this year. Enjoy!
** FYI, I don't believe Kenneth Oppel's The Nest can actually win, because I believe he is Canadian. That being said, it is still included on our list because the reviews were that good. I wanted the kids to read it. We will be discussing this aspect of the award too.
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