Date of Award
Master of Science in Education (MSEd)
Education and Human Development
Dr. Robert W. Blake
Past research has indicated that Award books like the Newbery and Caldecott Award books are not always favorites of children. Instead, picture books chosen by youngsters for their peers are often more readily received and enjoyed by this elementary age group.
The purpose of this study was to test the judgments of 20 first-grade students and three educators where 24 picture books were concerned. Ten of the books were Caldecott Award books chosen by a librarian, and fourteen of the books were selected by a six-year-old boy.
Several considerations were studied. Interrater agreement among the children was determined as well as the accuracy of prediction of the educators in their attempt to pinpoint which books they believed the children would like most and least. Also, the educators rated the overall quality of the books, looking specifically at content, illustrations and theme/moral. The intent was to determine whether or not these teachers would rate the Award books the highest as had panels of judges and critics from years past.
The 24 book covers were hidden so the children and adults would not see any of the Caldecott medals.
Results showed that, while they have minds of their own and think on the same lines, the children were well understood by the educators where book preferences were concerned. That is, the Award books were found to be liked equally as well as the nonawardwinners by the children. The percentage of agreement among the children for each book was generally high: two-thirds of the class agreed on 16 of the 24 books or 67% of the choices given them. Yet the teachers had an almost perfect agreement with the children (rs= .99) when they judged which books they believed the children would like most and least.
Finally, the three educators proved to be very fine judges of quality picture books, assuming that the Caldecott Award books were truly deserving of the medals. The mean ratings showed that seven of the ten Award books were ranked in the top fiftieth percent with the remaining three placing 13th, 14th and 15th. The nine lowest-rated books were all nonawardwinners. It was noted, however, that the adults recognized a few of the books as Award books based on their past usage of them with students or their own children. Nonetheless, each adult remained as objective as possible during the ratings.
The investigator concluded that first-grade students will agree quite often on books they prefer. They show no significant preference for Award books over books without the honors given by critics. The educators in the study had an excellent vision of which books the children would prefer, and they were quite adept in their selection of quality picture books worthy of Awards. Teachers should consider the choices of children where literature is concerned, continue to understand children's interests and search for a balance between the generations when choices must be made in the classroom and library.
Gursslin, Carol Cox, "Award Books vs. Children’s Choices: Middle Ground on the Playground?" (1984). Education and Human Development Master's Theses. 1020.