Friday, December 9, 2016

Sibert Smackdown! 2016/2017

Used with permission
Last year, around this time, I wrote a blog post encouraging schools to participate in The Sibert Smackdown! as a way of building enthusiasm for the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, which is given each year as part of the ALA Youth Media Awards.
This fun activity was so popular, that I’ve decided to do it again.

Here’s how it works.

First, students in grades 3-5 select two nonfiction picture books from the Mock Sibert list below, which was influenced by the Mock Sibert lists posted by literacy and curriculum coordinator Alyson Beecher on Kid Lit Frenzy, literacy specialist Michele Knott on Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook, and the folks at Anderson’s Bookstore. You should check out all these lists, which include additional information about each book. (The lists created by Alyson and Anderson’s also feature long-form nonfiction titles.)

Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood; Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport (Simon & Schuster)

Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics by Steve Jenkins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari; Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Roaring Brook Press)

Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine by Heather Lang; Illustrated by Raul Colon (Calkins Creek)

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming; Illustrated by Eric Rohmann (Roaring Brook Press)

The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton by Audrey Vernick; Illustrated by Steven Salerno (Clarion Books)

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy; Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Simon & Schuster) 

Octopus One to Ten by Ellen Jackson; Illustrated by Robin Page (Beach Lane Books)

The Secret Subway by Shana Corey; Illustrated by Red Nose Studios (Schwartz and Wade)

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton; Illustrated by Don Tate (Charlesbridge)

After reading the two titles they've selected, students evaluate and compare them, recording their thinking on a worksheet like this one, which is a kid-friendly version of the real Sibert criteria (actual criteria are available here):

When students are done, they can share their responses with classmates. Or the worksheets can be posted, so that other students can use the information to help them make book choices.

If time permits, students could do multiple rounds of this activity to select classroom, whole-grade, or multi-grade favorites. The Sibert Award committee will announce its winner and honor titles on Monday, January 23, 2017, at the ALA Youth Media Awards ceremony.


  1. I am so thrilled to see Coyote Moon here!!! Thanks, Melissa. This is such a great idea!

  2. Thanks for this. I just ordered the ones I haven't read yet from my library!

  3. Colleen,
    If you're interested in taking part in an inter-school Mock Sibert activity with schools in CT, IL, AZ, and Malaysia, tweet me and I'll put you in touch with the other teachers.

  4. Fantastico! Please let me know how it goes. Just 2 weeks until the ALA YMA.