Caldecott Medal Winners

by Sarah Paige Hunter

Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (1964 winner)

One night Max (the main character) puts on his wolf suit and causes all sorts of trouble, so his mother calls him 'Wild Thing' and sends him to bed without any dinner. That night, a forest begins to grow in Max's room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the "place where the wild things are." Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins. But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely and realizes it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all. The wild things fight for him to stay, of course, but Max sails home to the place where he truly belongs.

Locomotive, by Brian Floca (2014 winner)

It is the summer of 1869, and trains, crews, and family are traveling together, riding America’s brand-new transcontinental railroad. These pages come alive with the details of the trip and the sounds, speed, and strength of the mighty locomotives; the work that keeps them moving; and the thrill of travel from plains to mountain to ocean. This book invites you to hear the hiss of the steam, feel the heat of the engine, watch the landscape race by. "Come ride the rails, come cross the young country!" The illustrations really bring the trains life and draw you in to each page. A simple, fun, informative read for K-2 classrooms!

This Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen (2013 winner)

A small, mischievous fish steals a little hat from a sleeping, giant fish, and explains how it's going to be totally fine- he's going to the tall grass. He tells himself that the fish probably would have no idea that the hat was gone, and if he did, he wouldn't know that the narrator had taken it, and if he did...well, he wouldn't be able to find the narrator...it goes on. The narrator swears that no one will know where he is, and just as he's saying it, the larger fish comes up and takes his hat back. This is a short, clever book with very intriguing illustrations. The author hooks you immediately and you really want to know where narrator is going!
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen (1988 winner)

Owl Moon is a slightly older book about a child whose father takes her "owling," or looking and calling for owls near the woods where they live. Along the way they encounter many different animals, all the while the child's father is imitating the call of an owl. Finally they come face to face with a great horned owl. This is an unusual yet creative and exciting adventure that you can read about in your class to show wonderful, scenic illustrations.
Owl Moon

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers, by Mordicai Gerstein (2004 winner)

This is the story of Phillipe Petit, a French man who walked on a tightrope between the Twin Towers in 1974. Everyone told him he couldn't do it, that he wasn't allowed and that it couldn't happen. But he wondered if he could do it in secret, without people knowing he was planning on it. So he made an immaculate plan to set up for his tightrope walking, and did so for people in the city to see. He was arrested and sent to court, but then sentenced to perform for the children in the park. This is a great book to read to your class to introduce a basic knowledge/awareness of the Twin Towers, since they are now gone. It also provides moving illustrations that show how brave Petit had to be to overcome the challenges he faced.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers.wmv

How We Will Use These Books in the Classroom

  • To learn about the Caldecott Medal and what kinds of books it recognizes
  • To pay close attention not only to the text in a book, but also the illustrations
  • To make connections between the texts and the pictures; to see how the illustrations can help us understand what is going on in the text
  • To understand why illustrations are important components of texts, books, etc.