Have you ever wondered about the medals that appear on some children’s books? Probably lots of books you read (or were handed) when you were a kid sported these tiny, shiny seals, and you still find them on books today—golds, silvers, and bronzes. Many children’s literature award panels (and I mean many!) present these medals to authors who contribute works of excellence and distinction to the field of children’s books, but each award has a different focus and definition of what merits a medal.
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award goes all the way back to 1922, and each year, committee names a winner and at least one (though usually more) honor books.
Flora & Ulysses – Kate DiCamillo (J D548f)
Doll Bones – Holly Black (J B5612d)
The Year of Billy Miller – Kevin Henkes (J H388y)
One Came Home – Amy Timberlake
Paperboy – Vince Vawter (J V398p)
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. (That’s right! This award goes to the artist who illustrates the picturebook—not the author.) The committee chooses a winner and one or more honor books each year—take a look at some past winners and see how diverse the illustrations are year to year!
Locomotive – Brian Floca (J 385.097 F56L)
Journey – Aaron Becker (J-P B383j)
Flora and the Flamingo – Holly Schaar Idle (J-P Id54f)
Mr. Wuffles! – David Wiesner (J-P W6365m)
Starting in 1970, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King. This award also has several pieces. There’s the Author Award, the Illustrator Award, the John Steptoe Award for New Talent, and the Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement (those last two divisions—added in 1995 and 2010 respectively) are named for previous award winners). The committee also names honor books for the Author and Illustrator award.
2014 Winner—Author Award
P.S. Be Eleven – Rita Williams Garcia (J W6751p)
2014 Honors—Author Award
March: Book One – John Lewis
Words with Wings – Nikki Grimes
Darius & Twig – Walter Dean Myers
The first and most enduring award for GLBT books is the Stonewall Book Awards, sponsored by the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table. Like the Coretta Scott King award, the Stonewall Book Award has several divisions, and recently, one of them has been devoted to children’s and YA literature—the Mike Morgan and Larry Romans award. Since The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd received the first award in 2010, many other books have won and been honored for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children – Kristin Cronn-Mills
Fat Angie – e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
Better Nate Than Ever – Tim Federic
Branded by the Pink Triangle – Ken Setterington
Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan (ebrary)
More awards to explore…