Many kids' book award winners hold prestige and esteem with other children's book authors, librarians, parents, teachers, and those in the literature industry. People who are unfamiliar with the high caliber of work in children's literature may have a hard time understanding the difficult tasks that awards committees have before them when they choose recipients each year, but as many others realize, exemplary children's books consistently set the bar high for other authors and encourage more exceptional literature.
Kids Book Awards
The most prestigious and best-known kids' book awards are the Newbery Medal and the Caldecott Medal, which respectively honor some of the best authors and illustrators in the industry. However, numerous other awards are handed out each year that honor authors for equally fantastic work or that highlight specific contributions to the field.
The John Newbery Medal has been awarded every year since 1922 in honor of John Newbery, an 18th-century British bookseller. The Association for Library Service to Children, a branch of the American Library Association (ALA), gives out the award after a distinguished panel of judges determines a suitable winner. Selection committee judges are often librarians, educators or related professionals in the children's literature industry.
The Newbery Medal is intended to honor "the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year." Usually, the panel also names several "Newbery honor books," which they believe are worthy of nearly as much attention and praise as the award winner. In considering a winner for the award, the panel considers a work's theme, presentation of information, plot development, and the quality of characters, setting, and style as main criteria. Past Newbery award winners have included:
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
- The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
- Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
Also awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, the Randolph Caldecott Medal was named in honor of 19th-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. The first award was given in 1938. A selection panel of judges, distinct from the panel that selects the Newbery award winner and honor books, consider a number of contenders in an attempt to choose "the most distinguished American picture book for children" that has been published during the previous year. Usually, at least one Caldecott honor book is also announced.
Past Caldecott winners have included:
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
- Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
- Tuesday by David Wiesner
- The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
- Fables by Arnold Lobel
- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
National Book Award
Every year since 1950, the National Book Foundation has issued National Book Awards (NBAs) to superior works of literature in a variety of categories, including children's and young-adult literature. The NBAs are intended to honor "the best of American literature" each year. Past NBA winners of awards in the children's and young-adult categories include:
- What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traiter to the National, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
- Godless by Pete Hautman
- The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
- A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
Coretta Scott King Award
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards honor distinguished African-American authors and illustrators each year who make outstanding contributions to the field of African-American children's literature. The award is given out by the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table, another division of the ALA. Past award winners have included:
- We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson
- The Blacker the Berry illustrated by Floyd Cooper and written by Joyce Carol Thomas
- Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
- Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
- The Land by Mildred Taylor
- Slam by Walter Dean Myers
In addition to the awards mentioned above, there are dozens of others that are awarded annually and semi-annually by librarians, educators, parents, and even bloggers throughout the country and the world. Children's librarians and booksellers can help locate specific award-winning books and show books in a certain category of awards.The field of children's and young-adult literature is so vast that it's helpful to find and enjoy books that have been singled out for their merit, although it's also important to remember that hundreds of other excellent novels still remain unrecognized and ready to explore.