Celebrating Books the Lab Way
The Sutherland Awards are a Lab institution—a memory that Labbies carry with them throughout their lives. They are a critical part of the Lower and Middle School library curriculum, but they are even more than that. They are part of a learning process that starts in early childhood and continues through graduation. They build on primary lessons of storytelling and creative writing and launch young readers into the techniques and processes of literary criticism that will carry them into their capstone English classes in high school.
A committee of sixth-grade volunteers pour over dozens of picture books, studying the merits of their words and illustrations, forming arguments in support of their favorites, and holding contentious debates to select a group of finalists that Lower School students then read and vote on in true democratic fashion. The process is challenging, exhilarating, frustrating, and collaborative all at once! The end result are awards received by real authors and the joy at the awards assembly attended by all participating students is palpable.
Embedded in the fun are critical lessons in close, textual reading, forming opinions based on the pictures and words of each book, evaluating candidates against criteria, crafting convincing arguments, and the collaborative relief of achieving consensus. "The Sutherland Awards are built out of Lab's tradition of valuing student voice," said Middle School Librarian, Tad Andracki. All it takes is a little curiosity, a passion for books, and the guidance of our fabulous librarians to create library lessons with real life implications.
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