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Making a difference with your vote

Democratic process and literary criticism in second grade

above: Notes from a recent second grade conversation reviewing the elements of an excellent multicultural picture book. Students voted on the winner of the 2024 Gordon School Multicultural Picture Book Award today. 

Each year, the second grade studies multiculturalism and representation in picture books.

They review dozens of titles published over the past twelve months, judging them according to criteria they developed together.

Their favorite is declared the winner of the Gordon School Multicultural Picture Book Award.

It’s a new way to look at a genre of books that many of these readers are still devouring at bedtime.

It’s also a way to practice group decisionmaking.

There’s a great deal of consensus building in the process.

There’s also some straight-up nominating and voting.

Every year, the students refine the criteria.

They read each book.

They leave their initial thoughts on post-its that fill each book.

They refine those thoughts into written reviews.

They record those reviews aloud and listen to each other’s takes on the books.

They winnow the field from several dozen down to fourteen.

Then, they come together on a day in May and cast their final votes.

The winner, then?

This year’s Gordon School Multicultural Picture Book Award was awarded today, to Tenacious: Fifteen Adventures Alongside Disabled Athletes by Patty Cisneros Prevo.


PS: Today’s decision process also included a version of rank voting (students got to pick their two favorites of the top fourteen) as well as some practice reading bar graphs.

When the winner was announced, Ms. Martindale ran to get fifth grade teacher Ms. Roterman, who she said “would be over the moon” about this choice. 

Ms. Roterman has worked hard for years to develop a strong curriculum about disability and access in fifth grade. She explained to students how important these issues were to her, and how she was indeed over the moon and excited to be working with these students in a few years.

Ms. Welsh then tied together the impromptu lesson for the group:

“Did you hear how much that meant to Ms. Roterman?” (nodding heads)

“Then, can you see now how your vote can make a difference for someone else?” (more nods)

“Give yourself a round of applause, then, for using your voices and your votes to make the world a better place!” (cheers all around).

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