Literary Awards - What are they and why should you care? - Part 1
If you've shopped in a bookstore, you may have picked up a book and seen an award sticker on the front.
But what exactly does that mean?
In this blog series, we will be going through different literary awards, both for kids and adults, and letting you know what they mean and why you should care about them.
First up is:
Children's Book Awards
Every year, the American Library Association holds committees to choose different children's book awards, each with a specific focus and criteria.
On January 19, 2024, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the 2024 winners for many children's book awards, which they call 'Youth Media Awards.'
Here are the top awards that are given every year. For the full list of awards, click here.
1. The John Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal has been awarded by the American Library Association since 1922 and is the most well-known children's book award in the country.
This award is given to the author of the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for Children."
There are many criteria for choosing which book gets this award, including development of plot, presentation of information, appropriateness of style, among others.
While committee members can include illustrations or book design if it significantly contributes to the book's effectiveness, but they must first and foremost focus on the text of the story. Because of this in-depth consideration, books awarded the Newbery Medal are usually worth picking up.
The 2024 Newbery Medal was awarded to The Eyes and The Impossible by Dave Eggers.
Newbery Honorable Mentions:
- Eagle Drums written and illustrated by Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson
- Elf Dog and Owl Head written by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Junyi Wu
- Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir written and illustrated by Pedro Martín
- Simon Sort of Says written by Erin Bow
- The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams written and illustrated by Daniel Nayeri
2. The Ralph Caldecott Medal
The Ralph Caldecott Medal has been awarded by the ALA since 1938 and is the most prestigious award given to an artist for the Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year. This year the winner was Vashti Harrison as author and illustrator for Big.
Caldecott Honorable Mentions:
- In Every Life illustrated and written by Marla Frazee
- Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter illustrated by Molly Mendoza, written by Aida Salazar
- There Was a Party for Langston illustrated by Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey, written by Jason Reynolds
- The Truth About Dragons illustrated by Hanna Cha, written by Julie Leung
3. The Coretta Scott King Award
The Coretta Scott King Award has been presented annually since 1970 by the ALA to books by African-American authors and illustrators. This award recognizes an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. This year’s winner was Ibi Zoboi for Nigeria Jones.
Coretta Scott King Honorable Mentions:
- Big written and illustrated by Vashti Harrison
- How Do You Spell Unfair?: MacNolia Cox and the National Spelling Bee written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison
- Kin: Rooted in Hope written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jeffery Boston Weatherford
4. The Pura Belpré Award
The Pura Belpré Award honors Latinx writers and illustrators whose children's and young adult books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience. This year’s winner was Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir written and illustrated by Pedro Martin.
The Pura Belpré Honorable Mentions:
- Mi papá es un agrícola/My Father, the Farm Worker illustrated by José B. Ramírez, written by J. Roman Pérez Varela
- Papá's Magical Water-Jug Clock illustrated by Eliza Kinkz, written by Jesús Trejo
- Remembering illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, written by Xelena González
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit www.ala.org.