For over a decade, I have always talked about wanting to be in the room for the Caldecott Medal.
Now that I’ve been there, I know that actually, it’s a lot of rooms.
The room where you decide to run for election to the committee or fill out your volunteer form.
The room where you see your name on the ballot.
The room where you find out you’re finally, at long last, on the committee.
The room where you meet all the other committee members for the first time.
The room where boxes and boxes of books pile up that you are expected to read all of.
The room you sit in by yourself, reading book after book, again and again and again. Prepare to spend a long time in this room.
The room where you have dinner with your committee the night before the discussion starts and the camaraderie and excitement is electric in the air.
The room where you talk and talk and talk and talk until a winner emerges.
The room in your hotel the night before the announcements where you wonder what the rest of the world will think about your committee’s decisions.
The room in the press room that your whole committee jams into while you call the winners and honorees and change their lives.
The room filled with your colleagues from around the country as your winners are announced and cheers and gasps are heard.
The room where you have breakfast with your committee, each one of them now lifelong friends and say goodbye after one of the most intense weekends of your life.
The room where see what your committee did written about in The New York Times and you cry because you never knew you would be involved with something so important.
The room where you read your own child the winning book for the first time.
The room at the Mock Caldecott filled with children you’ve been teaching about the medal, where you get to proudly read them your winning books.
The room at a nice restaurant where you meet your winner and hear what the medal truly means to them. Bring tissues to this room.
The room where the committees and honorees gather before the banquet and you talk and hug as if you’ve known each other all your lives.
The room where your winner gives a beautiful speech in front of a thousand people and thanks your committee.
The room you sit in now, working on the next project and the next award, surrounded by artwork from those special books and pictures of those special people.
If you are a member of an awards committee- I hope you enjoy all the rooms coming your way this week. It’s an unforgettable ride.