Friday, November 13, 2020

It’s Time for the Sibert Smackdown!

The Sibert Smackdown is an activity intended to build enthusiasm for the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal, which is given each year as part of the American Library Association’s annual Youth Media Awards. It focuses on picture books because they are more manageable to read in a school setting.

Here’s how it works. Students in grades 3-8 read the nonfiction picture books on your class’s Mock Sibert list. You can use the list I’ve compiled below or you can create your own list. My list includes titles that have strong kid appeal, will promote good discussions, and can be used as mentor texts in writing workshop. They reinforce the research techniques and craft moves included in most State ELA standards.  


Being Frog by April Pulley Sayre


Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals by Katy S. Duffield

Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon by Kelly Starling Lyons


Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming


The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner


Respect: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford


Saving Lady Liberty: Joseph Pulitzer's Fight for the Statue of Liberty by Claudia Friddell


Tiny Monsters: The Strange Creatures That Live On Us, In Us, and Around Us by Steve Jenkins


William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad by Don Tate


You’re Invited to a Moth Ball by Loree Griffin Burns

Will some of these books be named on Monday, January 25, 2021, when the Sibert Medal committee announces its winner and honor titles at the ALA Youth Media Awards ceremony? Who knows, but I do have a pretty good track record. 

You may also want to consider titles on the Mock Sibert list created  Anderson’s Bookshop, which includes picture books as well as middle grade titles. The last time I looked, they hadn't posted this year's list yet, but keep checking the link.

After reading your Mock Sibert titles, students choose their two favorites and use this worksheet, which you can download from my website, to evaluate and compare the books before they vote. The worksheet features a kid-friendly version of the criteria used by the real Sibert committee.


I also suggest using the guidelines developed by former Sibert judge Melody Allen. They are available herehere, and here.

I And I’d recommend reading this post, which describes how some educators have modified or enhanced the Sibert Smackdown! in the past. It's so important to create learning experiences that are perfect for your particular students. 

I’d love to hear how your students are progressing, and so would other participating teachers and librarians. Please use the Twitter hashtag #SibertSmackdown to share what you are doing.

Happy Reading!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting all these Sibert Smackdown guidelines and the blog posts. So cool to see the three kids posing with the Giant Squid book as they were the real winners - That spark of realization that they had written down their reasons for it's success, just wonderful - they've realized they understood what they were reading and fought for it's reality in the Siebert Award. Priceless.

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