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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
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The Heavy Medal Award Committee: a sneak preview (with a new twist)

For the past three years, the online book discussion on this blog has culminated in a mock vote for the Heavy Medal Newbery Winner. We’ll continue that tradition this year, with a new live discussion feature. It starts in December when we form a volunteer committee of 10-15 serious readers (the Heavy Medal Award Committee (HMAC). HMAC members read every book from our Heavy Medal Book List (HMBL), which is announced in early December. If you’re thinking you might consider joining, here’s what the HMAC members are in for:

  • HMAC members discuss each title on the list online during the first part of January.
  • HMAC members (if willing and available) take part in a live ZOOM discussion of the top titles (this is new!). 
  • After all titles have been discussed, the HMAC chooses a mock-winner and honor books.
  • Readers who are not on the HMAC can join in on the discussions throughout the process.
  • We’ll also hold a “Reader’s Poll” where those who are not on the HMAC select a winner.

Here’s a rough timeline, with a bit more detail of how it all works:

Mid-November: The Early 6
We’ll announce the Early 6. This is the half a dozen titles that will definitely be on the HMBL. These will be the most obvious choices that have received the highest level of interest from HM readers so far.

Early December: Finalize the Heavy Medal Book List
We’ll add the final 6-9 books during the first week of December, with a ton of input from Heavy Medal readers. The list should have variety in formats, age levels, style, etc. I’ll invite discussion on the blog to help reach our final choices. If there’s no clear cut-off, we’ll do an online poll to make the last cuts.

Mid-December: Form the Heavy Medal Award Committee
Sometime around December 10th,  I’ll ask for volunteers who are willing to read and discuss all of the books on the HMBL online. It’s a daunting task, but we’ve had some awesome committees in past years. We hope for 10-15 members, but can go beyond that as well.

Early January: Online Book Discussion
The HMAC members will discuss all of the books in a marathon couple of weeks. We’ll typically put one book per day up for discussion. Non-HMAC members can also join in these discussions.

Mid-January:  Live Book Discussion on ZOOM
NEW: We’re going to use ZOOM Webinar to get even closer to a real Newbery Committee experience. HMAC members will engage in a live book discussion of the leading titles. Everyone else can watch and listen, and can participate with comments and questions. I’ll announce date, time, and free registration information soon here on Heavy Medal. 

Mid-Late January:   HMAC Balloting and Reader’s Poll
Members of the HMAC will submit ballots based on the online and live discussions, resulting in our official HMAC Mock Newbery Winner. Simultaneously, all readers of Heavy Medal can take part in our Reader’s Poll, which will also result in a winning title.

January 25:  Real Newbery Announcement
The ALSC Youth Media Awards will be announced on January 25th. The Newbery is always the last award named.

If you have any questions or suggestions about the HMAC and the Book List, feel free to use the comments below. Meanwhile, we’ll continue with book discussion here on Heavy Medal, which will include posts from me and from many more of our excellent Guest Bloggers. PRAIRIE LOTUS is up next on Friday. And we’ll keep building our list of the most Newbery-worthy titles: November nominations open next Monday. 

Steven Engelfried About Steven Engelfried

Steven Engelfried is the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at


  1. Sam Leopold says:

    Hi Steven! Love the Zoom idea! I have been on the committee here the last two years and would love to do it again. Are those of us who did it before allowed to participate again? I have been following along throughout the year and, though I have sprinkled in a few comments , I like to wait until I have read all of the contenders to give deeper feedback. I will be there by December 10. If you prefer new participants, I understand. Thanks!

  2. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says:

    Hi Sam,
    Repeat participants are great! And new ones too. That actually matches the typical makeup of the real Committee, where there are usually a handful of people who have served on the Newbery or Caldecott before, along with some first-timers…

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