Newbery Medal Book Guide

by Brooke Bartlett
Published April 29, 2010 | Updated June 16, 2015

The Newbery Medal is an annual award given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) to recognize the most outstanding and distinguished book written for children each year. Named after John Newbery, the 18th century author who first began writing books exclusively for children, the first Newbery Medal was awarded in 1922 to The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon. Here's some more about the prestigious award to help you know what to look for when shopping online.

The Newbery Medal:

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  • Award Specifics

    Each year, one book written for children, in English, by a United States citizen, is selected by an award committee to receive the Newbery Medal. The ALSC states that the selected work must be "a distinguished contribution to American literature." The winning book's cover is emblazoned with a bronze medallion to commemorate the award. Each year, several finalists are also named as Newbery Honor books, and these works are marked with a silver medallion.

  • Recent Winners

    The 2015 winner was The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. The 2014 winner was Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo. The 2013 winner was The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. The 2012 winner was Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, and Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool won the medal in 2011.

  • Classic Stories

    Some of the most treasured books of all time are Newbery Award winners, and they live on as children's favorites, withstanding the test of time. The 1953 winner, Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, is still loved by children everywhere and has been adapted as a movie twice. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, an honor book in 1945, is still read in preschools to teach children the importance of accepting others. Other famous winners include King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.

  • Well-Known Authors

    Some authors have been honored year after year for their contributions to children's literature. Beverly Cleary (Ramona Quimby, Age 8; Dear Mr. Henshaw), Katherine Paterson (The Great Gilly Hopkins, Jacob Have I Loved, Bridge to Terabithia), Gary Paulsen (Hatchet, Dogsong), Scott O'Dell (The King's Fifth, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Black Pearl), and Elizabeth George Speare (The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Sign of the Beaver) have received the coveted award more than once. If you are not sure which book to buy, remember that these authors have won over the hearts of millions of young readers.

  • Choosing a Book

    Although many Newbery books are destined to be much-loved classics, not every Newbery book will appeal to all readers. Regardless, whether you are looking for books of adventure, history, fantasy, animals, and survival, or simply for picture books, you can find them on the list of Newbery Award winners and honor books. Although these books represent works for most reading levels, nearly all of them are suitable for reading aloud to children of any age.