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Awards For Children's Literature

Maria is a book reviewer, editor, and proofreader, as well as a master of public health, master gardener, photographer, artist, and writer.

Striving for Excellence in Children’s Literature

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy giving gifts of books to small children on gift-giving occasions. They do seem to enjoy them, and we try to make them age and culture appropriate. Having these awards to guide us in making good selections is helpful and appreciated.

There are many awards for children's literature. These are just a few of them. When choosing a book for your favorite little one, always look for at least one of these awards on the front cover -- you can't go wrong.

The Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature

The Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature

The Newbery Award

The John Newbery Medal, frequently shortened to "the Newbery Award" or even "the Newbery", is a literary award given to the author of books with the most distinguished contributions to American children's literature. The award is made by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

When choosing books as gifts your favorite little ones, this particular award always lets you know the book in question will be appreciated by both the children and the parents.

The Newbery Is a Coveted Award

This is a coveted award, named for the eighteenth century bookseller, John Newbery, given each year for books published during the preceding year. Many people look for the award on the cover of the books they choose as gifts for children. I do so, myself.

The Criteria for Receiving the Award:

  • The text of the book must be the author's original work;
  • the book must be published by an American publisher in the United States; and
  • the book must be published in English.
John Newbery, promoter of children's literature.

John Newbery, promoter of children's literature.

The Criteria for Receiving the Newbery Honor Book Award

To receive the Newbery Honor Book award, a book must meet certain criteria:

  • the text of the book must be the author's original work;
  • the book must be published by an American publisher in the United States; and
  • the book must be published in English.
Books that are 'runners-up" receive the award of a Newbery Honor Book.

Books that are 'runners-up" receive the award of a Newbery Honor Book.

Just One of the Multiple Recipients of the 2021 Newbery Medal

The Caldecott Medal is given to the American artist with the most distinguished illustrations in children's picture books.

The Caldecott Medal is given to the American artist with the most distinguished illustrations in children's picture books.

The Caldecott Medal for Illustrations in Children's Picture Books

The Caldecott Medal awarded annually in January by the Association for Library Services to Children (ASLC) which is the most acclaimed award for artists in the world of those who illustrate children's picture books. The ASLC is a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

The medal is named after Randolph Caldecott, a nineteenth century English illustrator who rose to prominence for his beautiful illustrations of children's books, and since 1938, the medal has been awarded every year to the artist with the most distinguished illustrations in a children's picture book published during the previous calendar year.

According booksellers everywhere, the authors and illustrators of books with the image of the Caldecott medal on the cover experience considerably increased sales. There are people who trust the award enough that they don’t even read the books before making a purchase for their children and youth. This medal is awarded to artists of books for children ranging in age up to age 14, but most recipients do seem to be books for small children.

The Caldecott Medal Has Strict Criteria

  • First the artist must be a citizen or resident of the United States;
  • excellence of execution in the artistic technique must be employed;
  • the artwork must exhibit excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
  • delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood of information must be expressed through the pictures; and
  • excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience is required.
The Caldecott Honor Book award for "runners-up".

The Caldecott Honor Book award for "runners-up".

The Caldecott Honor Book

Every year, multiple books receive the Caldecott Honor award to artists for their illustrations in children's picture books.

Randolph Caldecott, 19th century illustrator for whom the award is named

Randolph Caldecott, 19th century illustrator for whom the award is named

Recipient of the 2020 Caldecott Medal Winner, Illustrated by Michaela Goade

The Coretta Scott King Award

Coretta Scott King is known primarily for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and brotherhood. In the world. The criteria of this award requires that the book must:

  • portray some aspect of the black experience, past, present, or future;
  • be published in the U.S.; and
  • be published in the year preceding presentation of the award.
The Coretta Scott King Medal

The Coretta Scott King Medal

The Coretta Scott King Award is Presented Annually

The Coretta Scott King Award is presented annually by the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table, a division of the ALA. This award, named Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., recognizes outstanding books for young adults and children written by African Americans that reflect the African-American experience. Awards are given both to authors and to illustrators.

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King

The Coretta Scott King Award Also Has Honor Books

The award was first given to an author in 1970. In 1974, the award was expanded to honor illustrators as well as authors. Starting in 1978, runners-up have been recognized as Author Honor Books.

The first Illustrator Honor Books awards were given in 1981. Beginning in 2010, the Coretta Scott King Awards committee has given the Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. Additionally, in 1996, the committee began making an occasional award known as the John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Eligible for these awards is a wide variety of literary genres at varying interest- and reading-levels. They deserve to be included in standard curriculum as a teaching tool at schools everywhere.

Before and After the Renaming of This Award

The Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Children's Literature Legacy Awards

The Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Children's Literature Legacy Awards

The Children’s Literature Legacy Award

Now known as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award, it was previously known as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.

In June of 2018, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) voted to rename the award. Recognizing the language used in her books reflects the culture of her time, while also acknowledging that the language is seen by today's population as insensitive not only to indigenous people of this country, but to African Americans as well, a change had to be made.

The ALSC is a division of the American Library Association, and the award's website states "the decision was made in consideration of the fact that Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values of inclusiveness, integrity, respect, and responsiveness”. This is an honorable first step in the effort to remove stereotypes and racist images from children's literature, but we have a long way to go.

Laura Ingalls Wilder as a young woman

Laura Ingalls Wilder as a young woman

This Award Is Given to Both Authors and Illustrators.

Once called the Wilder Medal, this award was established in 1954, and was first given to Laura Ingalls Wilder. It recognizes authors or illustrators whose works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature in the United States. It was first awarded every three years, then every two years; and in 2016, began being awarded every year. In addition to Wilder, previous winners include Virginia Hamilton, Maurice Sendak, Katherine Paterson, Eric Carle, Tomie de Paola, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Our Children Are Our Future

We have an adopted bi-racial granddaughter, so we make sure most of the books we give her have not only strong female characters, but strong characters of her races and cultures.

Our children are our future, so surrounding them with entertainment and adults who are supportive of their self-image is imperative.

© 2021 Maria Logan Montgomery

Your Comments Are Always Welcome

Maria Logan Montgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, UsA on October 04, 2021:

Brenda, that's a wonderful idea. Wish I had thought of it.

Maria Logan Montgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, UsA on October 04, 2021:

Hi, Pamela. I learned about them when buying books for our first grandchild. Now I look for them. Thanks for reading my article.

Maria Logan Montgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, UsA on October 04, 2021:

It sure does, Ms. Dora. Glad you enjoyed my article.

Maria Logan Montgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, UsA on October 04, 2021:

Hi, John. There are so many awards worldwide, but I grew tired of researching them. Maybe I should write another article for the awards that are outside the U.S. I do find the awards helpful in choosing books. Thanks for reading my article.

Maria Logan Montgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, UsA on October 04, 2021:

You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 04, 2021:

This is interesting and helpful information.

Around here, we often request books be given at baby showers.

This helps the parents to get started reading to their children.

Knowing to look for these will help out.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 04, 2021:

I sure didn't know about all these awards, Maria. Thank you for sharing this information.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 04, 2021:

Thank you for the information on these awards. They encourage writers and artists to strive for excellence. Hard work deserves recognition.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 03, 2021:

Thank you for sharing this, Maria. It does make it easier to choose a good book for kids if it has one of these awards displayed on the cover. I note these are all books that have to be written or published in the USA, however, and we have a number of different awards “downunder.”

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 03, 2021:

I've heard of the Newbury; other than that I was clueless, so thank you for the eductation.

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