Children’s Book Awards: Demystified
In the list below, we explain some of our favorite book awards for you, and provide some examples of notable winners of each award.
You’ll be familiar with many of the titles below, and probably have several on your bookshelves! Students in Open Books programs regularly read award-winning books, and copies of many of these can be purchased from the Open Books Store.
Are there any of your favorite award winners we’ve left off this list?
(Randolph) Caldecott Medal – The Caldecott Medal honors the best children’s picture book of the year, awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (part of the ALA). This award was created in response to concerns that artists of children’s picture books were not getting as much recognition as authors of children’s books.
Notable winners include: Song of the Swallows (1950), The Snowy Day (1963), Where the Wild Things Are (1964), Jumanji (1982), The Polar Express (1986), Owl Moon (1988), The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2008), A Ball for Daisy (2012)
Coretta Scott King Award – Established in 1970, and named after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow, this award honors African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that “demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” Awards are given to both authors and illustrators, and honor recipients may also be named.
Notable winners and honor recipients include: Walter Dean Myers, Sharon M. Draper, Jerry Pinkney (illustrator), Virginia Hamilton, Nikki Grimes, Jacqueline Woodson, Mildred Taylor, Angela Johnson, Toni Morrison, and G. Neri.
Geisel Award – Created in 2006 and named after Theodor Geisel (AKA Dr. Seuss), this award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year.
Notable winners include: Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Suçie Stevenson (2006), There Is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems (2008), Bink and Gollie, written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile (2011), Tales for Very Picky Eaters, written and illustrated by Josh Schneider (2012)
Horn Book Awards – First presented in 1967, the Boston Globe—Horn Book Awards are given for children’s and young adult literature in the categories of Picture Book, Fiction and Poetry, and Nonfiction. Books must be published in the United States, but may be written or illustrated by citizens of any country.
Notable winners include: M.C. Higgens the Great by Virginia Hamilton (Fiction, 1974); The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Fiction, 1978); The Snowman by Raymond Briggs (Picture Book, 1979); A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (Picture Book, 1983); The Paper Crane by Molly Bang (Picture Book, 1986); The Way Things Work by David Macaulay (Nonfiction, 1989); Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (Fiction, 1990); Holes by Louis Sachar (Fiction, 1999); The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Fiction and Poetry, 2008)
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award – This award is given annually to excellent children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the causes of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and races.
Notable winners include: Through My Eyesby Ruby Bridges (2000); Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan (2001); Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport (2002); Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, the Law that Changed the Future of Girls in America by Karen Blumenthal (2006); Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts about Peace by Anna Grossnickle Hines (2012)
Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal – This award was first given in 1954 to its namesake for her outstanding and lasting contribution to literature for children. Today the award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to children’s literature. It is not given each year.
Notable winners include: Laura Ingalls Wilder (1954), E.B. White (1970), Beverley Cleary (1975), Theodor S. Geisel (Dr. Seuss) (1981), Maurice Sendak (1983), Eric Carle (2003), Tomie dePaola (2011), Katherine Paterson (2013).
(John) Newbery Medal – First awarded in 1922, the Newbery medal was the first children’s book award ever given. It is now the most widely known children’s book award in the United States, and honors the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children each year.
Notable winners include: Caddie Woodlawn (1936), The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1959), Island of the Blue Dolphins (1961), A Wrinkle in Time (1963), Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1971), Bridge to Terabithia (1978), Jacob Have I Loved (1981), A Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (1989), Number the Stars (1990), Holes (1990), Bud, Not Buddy (2000), Dead End in Norvelt (2012)