Children's and Young Adult Book Award Winners

by : 

Ruth Anne C., Materials Management

This year the ALA Midwinter Meeting was held in Atlanta, Georgia. As always, the main event is the Youth Media Awards announcements on Monday morning.  Here is where we learn the hard earned results of dozens of committee members who have read literally hundreds of books for children and young people, where we gather to acknowledge the best of the best books published in the previous year.

Illustration of a young girls standing on a rock staring at a large full moon with origami birds flying around her. Text: The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Kelly Barnhill. Bestselling Author of The Witch's Boy.


The oldest and most prestigious award is the John Newbery Medal, first awarded to an author in 1922. This year’s medal winner is The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.  The committee’s chair, Thom Barthelmess, said “this compassionate, hopeful novel invites children everywhere to harness their power, and ask important questions about what keeps us apart and what brings us together.”


The second oldest award is The Randolph Caldecott Medal for an illustrator. This year’s medal winner is Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe. It is the story of the young artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. In the author’s note in the book, Steptoe explains how he chose to create his “own interpretations of certain pieces and motifs” instead of reproducing Basquiat’s work. This title was also recognized by the Coretta Scott King Committee for the Illustrator Award.

Freedom Over Me:  Eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life by Ashley Bryan was recognized by the Coretta Scott King Jury as an honor selection for both the writing and the illustration by Ashley Bryan.

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds is a story of two brothers who are sent away to spend the summer with their grandparents. It was awarded a Coretta Scott King Author Honor for its demonstration and appreciation of “African American culture and universal human values.”  This title was also cited for the Schneider Family Book Award as the middle grade selection. The Schneider award recognizes an author for “a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience.”

Illustration of a group of African Americans walking side by side along a street. In front of them is a large group of police officers and journalists can be seen on the sides of the image. Text: March Book Three. John Lewis. Andrew Aydin. Nate Powell


One title was awarded 4 awards: March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, won the Medal for the Michael L. Printz Award for the best Young Adult book; the Coretta Scott King Author Award; the Robert F. Sibert Medal for a book of information; and the YALSA Nonfiction Award. This title is a graphic novel that brings John Lewis’s personal account of the civil rights movement to life.


These are the books that have received the most attention. The complete list of winners can be found by clicking here.


Here are a few titles that I really enjoyed and was pleased to see recognized.


Image of a hand drawn brown cat with a red collar. With the words "They all saw a cat Brendan Wenzel"They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel earned a Caldecott Honor. A child and a dog and a fox and a fish and a mouse and a bee and a bird and a flea and a snake and a skunk and a worm and a bat all see a cat in their own way. This is a great lesson on perspective. Each character sees the cat in a different way. The illustrations were "rendered in almost everything imaginable, including colored pencil, oil pastels, acrylic paint, watercolor, charcoal, Magic Marker, good old number 2 pencils, and even an iBook." Each illustration is unique as to how the character sees the cat and is a treat to behold. For ages 3 to 8


Book cover: yellow animated dog chasing a mouse. Text: Mike Twokhy. Oops Pounce Quick Run! An Alphabet Caper.Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper by Mike Twohy is a Geisel Honor, an award named after the famous Dr. Seuss that recognizes beginning reader titles. So many alphabet books are merely a list of the letters and something that starts with each letter, like apple, ball, cat, etc. On each page this book too has each letter with a word, but it tells a story that starts with Asleep. Ball. Catch. Well, you really need the book because the story is in the cartoon like illustrations. Very funny and clever and sure to be appealing to young readers. The author and illustrator is New Yorker cartoonist Mike Twohy.


Illustration of a young African American girl looking thoughtfully at a fish tank. Text: Richard Jackson. Jerry Pinkney. In Plain Sight.

In Plain Sight by Richard Jackson and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney is a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. It is a beautifully illustrated story about a little girl, Sophie, and her grandfather. He plays a lost and found game with Sophie each day after school. Pinkney's illustrations are warm and inviting, just like the relationship between Sophie and her grandfather.




More information about the individual awards can be found on the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) website; YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) website; and the Coretta Scott King Book Awards website. 

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