HOW TO HOST A MOCK NEWBERY BOOK CLUB: 10 EASY STEPS by Armin Arethna and Mary Ann Scheuer

Mock Newbery Book Club (3)

Hosting a Mock Newbery Book Club in your school is as easy as 1, 2, 3…..


  1. Welcome all students–don’t limit to high readers! Choose 4th and 5th grades, or only 5th
  2. Find two adults to lead book club–librarians or teachers. We have found that having two leaders works best, for our students and for our adults!
  3. Hold informal weekly (or bi-weekly) meetings, September through January.
  4. Ask all book club members to come to four formal book club discussions, at lunch recess or after school (in September, November, and twice in January).
  5. Share books with readers–using bookmarks or stickers to highlight eligible books.
  6. Post Newbery criteria (we hang this poster) to facilitate short informal discussions.
  7. Ask students to write down their thoughts on book posters (see this poster from Fish in a Tree). Ask students to choose up to three books to nominate for final discussion.
  8. Make final nomination list by November 1st, including a diverse range of titles (aim for 10 books). We ask students to nominate books, to give them ownership in the process.
  9. Facilitate positive, supportive discussions–asking kids to reflect on criteria and compare nominated books. Hold final book club discussions just before the real Newbery committee meets.
  10. HAVE FUN! Watch the book buzz grow and spread among your readers!

Mock Newbery Book Club (2)


  • Mary Ann Scheuer and Armin Arethna have hosted a Mock Newbery Book Club at Emerson School for the past three years. This year, they are expanding the program across Berkeley elementary schools.
  • We focus on developing readers, sharing book buzz & talking about books. This is a key opportunity for students to develop identity as a reader, as part of a reading community. We get excited about the Newbery announcements, but our real joy is watching readers grow.
  • Think ahead about how you might get funding for new books–through a Donors Choose grant, the PTA or your local library. We use a combination of funding. We only purchase 2-3 copies of each nominated title, so the total cost is about $300-$400 per school.
  • This has been a wonderful opportunity to establish a strong relationship between Berkeley Public Library and BUSD teachers, librarians and students.
  • Read more about their experience at the ALSC Blog (to be published Monday, August 8th).

Armin Arethna is a children’s librarian at Berkeley Public Library. She served on the 2015 Newbery Committee.

Mary Ann Scheuer is a teacher librarian in Berkeley Unified School District. She writes the blog Great Kid Books.