by Brooke Bartlett
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. Always guaranteed to be phenomenal reads, Newbery Medal books are a fantastic gift for the children in your life. Take a look at this Newbery Medal book guide to learn more about this prestigious award.
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: In 2009, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman won the award, while Good Masters! Sweet Ladies Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz won in 2008. The winners of the award in 2004 and 1999, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo and Holes by Louis Sachar, respectively, have since been made into blockbuster movies.
Classic stories: Some of the most treasured books of all time are Newbery Award winners, and they live on as children's favorites despite their age. 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.
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 Terabitha), 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, these authors have won over the hearts of millions of young readers.
Considerations: Though all of the Newbery books are destined to be much-loved classics, not all books will appeal to all readers. Regardless, whether you are looking for books of adventure, history, fantasy, animals, survival or simply picture books, you can find them on the list of Newbery Award winners. Although these books represent works for all reading levels, almost all of them are suitable for reading aloud to children too young to read for themselves.