After months of reading and discussions, fifth- and sixth-graders at St. Brigid of Kildare School in Dublin watched the announcement of the Newbery Medal on Monday.

After months of reading and discussions, fifth- and sixth-graders at St. Brigid of Kildare School in Dublin watched the announcement of the Newbery Medal on Monday.

The students read several 2009 Newbery award nominees and were invited by a Newbery committee member to provide input on the books.

The Newbery Medal, awarded by the American Library Association, is the highest award for children's literature. One Newbery Medal is issued each year, along with honorees.

In Monday's announcement of Newbery Medal winners for 2009, "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman received top honors. Honor books included "The Underneath" by Kathi Appelt, "After Tupac and D Foster" by Jacqueline Woodson, "Savvy" by Ingrid Law and "The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom" by Margarita Engle.

Fifth- and sixth-graders at St. Brigid got involved with the Newbery award last spring when Floyd Dickman, a 2009 Newbery committee member, issued an invitation for students to read and review Newbery nominees.

The students were given a summer reading list prepared by Dickman and when school began in the fall, they began studying the award and past winners. Past Newbery winners "On my Honor" and "Crispin: The Cross of Lead" also were on the students' reading lists.

The students then chose 2009 nominees to read, discuss in small groups and critique. During a November visit from Dickman, students argued for books they thought should receive the award.

"During Mr. Dickman's visit, he asked for students' opinions about the nominated books and met with small groups of students to get more specific reactions to their favorites," a project summary said. "During the small group session he took many notes on the comments students made and he (planned) to use the information in the 'justification' he must write when choosing the Newbery Medal winner."

Students watched the announcement of the Newbery Medal winner on Monday and dressed up as their favorite characters. Fifth- and sixth-graders also visited lower grade levels to talk about the Newbery Medal and the nominees.