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The Cook Prize Award Curriculum

Tell the students about the award, that librarians and teachers all over the United States are reading these books, discussing them and voting for the best book of the year.

Statement of Objective:

Tell the students that they'll be able to evaluate these books and select the best of the year after they are read aloud and discussed.

Suggested Procedures & General Instructions:

We are asking the students to decide which book they like the best. In which book do they think the pictures and the words really work together to explain an idea and to get them thinking about it? It is not enough to love the writing but feel only so-so about the art. Similarly, if they love the pictures but don't really understand the text, they should not vote for it as their favorite.

  1. Read the books to your class at the usual read-aloud time. If possible, read only one book at a time.
  2. Carry on your usual method of commenting on or reacting to the book. This should be as natural a part of your day as possible; you don't need to elicit responses if the students don't usually make them, at least the first time around.
  3. Leave the books where they can be available to the students for looking at, poring over, or reading.
  4. Be sure to read the books more than once. After the second reading, you might want to ask questions about the students’ reactions to the book, what parts they like or don't like, whether they understood something or thought about something differently after reading the book, or any questions that might clue you in to their reactions.

It is important to remind the students that there is no right or wrong answer. Different people react to the books in different ways. The illustrations might appeal to one person but not another. Some people find a story funny while others do not.

  1. How did the pictures relate to the text? For example, were the illustrations essential to their understanding of the book, or did they just highlight particular moments or concepts?
  2. Were the illustrations consistent with the tone of the story? If not, did it matter?
  3. What information do they think the author was trying to give them?
  4. Did they understand all, most, or only some of what the book was about?
  5. Did the author and artist clearly present the facts or concepts so you could understand them?
  6. Did the author use interesting language and vocabulary?
  7. Did the illustrations and/or photographs add to or enhance the text?
  8. Did the author give you other ideas about how to find out more?
  9. Did the design of the book make it easy to follow the ideas presented?
  10. If the book is about a person, why did the author choose to write about that person? Do they feel they got to know the person?  

Things to talk about before the students vote for their favorite.

  1. What does it mean to give a book an award?
  2. Why would an author want to have their book win a prize?
  3. Subjectivity: why each person can have a different feeling about a book. There is no right answer. Respect for others' opinions.
  4. Peer pressure: Why is it not fair to the author to vote for a book just because a friend tells you to?
  5. Please provide a paper ballot so that the students are assured privacy in their choice. We copy the book covers and ask the students to circle their vote.


Is the conversation about the titles lively and passionate? Are they respectful in the conversation about the titles? Can the students retell the story in their own words? Do the students have the ability to discern the content, pictures and words- Funny? Serious? True? Do they relate the content to their own experiences? Observe their work in their application activities. What are their responses when hearing the news of the winner?

Modifications/accommodations for any special needs students in the class. There may be students that need more time processing the information.  Describe illustrations for the sight impaired.