Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sibert Smackdown Wrap Up

Yesterday at 10:00 a.m. EST I was glued to my computer to watch the live stream of the ALA Youth Media Awards. Were you?

Most people were excited to find out who won the Caldecott and Newbery Awards, but I was looking forward to the Sibert announcement, and I wasn’t alone.

This year a growing number of students participated in the #SibertSmackdown, and they wanted to know if the books they’d championed would be selected by the actual Sibert committee.

Many schools celebrated nonfiction with small, focused programs, and a few went whole hog. Here are some reflections on this year’s program from Michelle Knott (@knott_michele) in Illinois. They are invaluable if you are thinking of jumping on the #SibertSmackdown bandwagon next year.

At an international school in Malaysia, Mrs. Victor’s (@ErikaMVictor) students discussed their favorite books in Flipgrid videos. You can watch them here. Their winner was Grace Hopper: Queen of Code by Laurie Wallmark, with honors to The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson, Balderdash! by Michelle Markel, Dazzle Ships by Chris Barton, and Grand Canyon by Jason Chin.

Ms. Jaimes at Flagstone School (@msjaimes) in Colorado, posted great photos of students reading the books aloud. Here are some examples:

Ultimately, the students selected If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams as the winner.

At Center School (@libraryatcenter), fifth graders read and discussed the books in pairs.

At a school in Illinois, Mrs. Rench’s students took their responsibility very seriously. They carefully analyzed the books and recorded their ideas.


Here is the list of books the students focused on.

At a school in in Michigan, Mrs. Weakland’s (@mrsweakland) fourth graders selected Shark Lady by Jess Keating as their winner.

Mrs. Thompson (@LTeacher10) tweeted me to share what one of her students had written about How the Cookie Crumbled by Gilbert Ford while filling out his #SibertSmackdown worksheet:

How the Cookie Crumbled tells the very lip-smacking tale of how the chocolate chip cookie was whipped up in the first place! It's no wonder how this book could become the cookie of your eye!"

Love it! The class’s fantastic observations are compiled in this google doc. It’s so interesting to read their comments.

Mrs. Singer’s (@Singers3rdcgrade) third graders were enamored by books like Dazzle Ships by Chris Barton and Grand Canyon by Jason Chin.


Here's what a school in Bothell, Washington (@LibraryFW) wrote about their experience:

“Thank you @mstewartscience for the Sibert Smackdown project. Definitely recommend this and plan on doing in library next year. Students evaluated nonfiction with purpose and it helped me add quality titles to the collection. So much fun!”

That’s music to my ears! Here’s a list of their winners: 1) This is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe 2) The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson and tied for 3) A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman & How the Cookie Crumbled by Gilbert Ford.

At Hampden Meadows School in Rhode Island, working with librarian Melanie Roy (@mrsmelanieroy) and teacher Jennifer Reynolds (@reynoldsj24), fifth graders made incredible Flipgrid videos and then had a family celebration so that parents could watch their children's videos. What a great idea!

Which books did the Hampden Meadows students choose as winners? Older than Dirt by Don Brown and Mike Perfit came in first place, closely followed by Grace Hopper: Queen of Code by Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu. 
In Upstate New York, Mrs. Rattner’s (@staceybethr) and Mrs. Pryde’s (@MrsPryde_CES) students did some unbelievably wonderful projects and then defended their book picks to classmates. Here’s a collage of the children reading the books.
Now take a look at them creating their projects:

To see photos of the whole process, check out this google album. Here are some of the final projects:

Schools in Maine, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Connecticut participated too.

In the end, the biggest winners weren't the books or the authors and illustrators. The biggest winners were the students who learned to analyze fascinating, high-quality informational texts and discuss and debate their ideas with their peers.

I hope even more schools participate in #SibertSmackdown activities next year. Until then, keep on reading nonfiction!


  1. Thanks for championing the #SibertSmackdown and for including us in your post. Three years in, it feels like an important element in the ebb and flow of the year. Discovering a treasure trove of brilliant new nonfiction, fresh mentor text for our informational writing, and online community with other passionate book lovers has grown our enthusiasm each year. Our interactions with authors have made this year extra special, so thank you again for leading that charge!

    1. So glad to hear that your students are loving the #SibertSmackdown. Nonfiction rocks!

  2. I loved all of the books discussed here! I was actually surprised by several of the Sibert selections this year--totally off of my radar (with the exception of Grand Canyon). I liked the Sea Otters book, but didn't expect it to get a Sibert. Sad that How to Be An Elephant didn't get a nod.

  3. What you've shown is one reason I'm sad to be retired. I'm missing all those students learning from their love of non-fiction books, what works, what doesn't for them! Thanks for sharing so much book love!

  4. I love how this process gets kids thinking and comparing.

  5. What a way to get kids thinking and recording their outtake of their chosen stories. THIS IS what learning is all about. Thank you so much for leading this. You are instrumental in this science world.

  6. I like the idea of a SibertSmackdown and the projects that go along with them. Leave it to hard-working teachers to come up with such a creative approach to work the Sibert awards into their curriculum. Bravo!