Monday, May 31, 2010

Booklist: The John Newbery Medal

When I came back to writing last year, one of the first pieces I wrote was a s short fiction piece, about a child on a school bus, driving through a run-down, old Main Street.

I read the very first draft to my eight-year-old daughter, and the excited look on her face gave me shivers. I relished her enthusiastic reaction and told myself that I would write children’s stories. I even signed up for NaNoWriMo last year, to give me the opportunity to flesh out an idea I have a character-building children’s book.

As I do not have a NaNoWriMo Winner Widget on my sidebar, it is clear that I did not meet the challenge. Alas, the first piece I read to my daughter was the only complete work I have written for children under twelve. My later pieces are for a distinctly older audience.

Now that my son is in his early reader stage, he often tells the librarian at school that his mother writes stories too. The ever-so-pleasant librarian tells my six-year-old boy that she hopes to have copies of my books in her library someday. And so, he asks me every day, “Mommy? When are you going to write a story for me to read?” I can almost hear the chisel chink at my heart each time he asks.

His older sister learned much quicker to stop asking me that question. “Mommy doesn’t write stories for kids,” she explains. The chisel goes in deeper.

I would like to write stories for children. I even have a couple interesting ideas and plot lines in my head for fairy tales. But something keeps me from trying. Maybe I am afraid that I do not know how to write for children?

So, I decided, what better way to learn than to read some of the best books for children of all time? Also, in the month of June, I will write with children in mind as my intended audience, when I do my daily prompt exercises to get some practice and flesh out some ideas.

Whenever I buy books as gifts for children, I use the Newbery Medal seals on the covers to make my choice. Now I get to see what makes these stories tick. Plus, my kids get some great additions to their own private library here at home.


First awarded in 1922 by the Association for Library Service for Children (ALSC), the John Newbery Medal is awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for Children. The award is named after, John Newbery, a bookseller in the 18th Century.

The goals of the award are “to encourage original creative work in the field of books for children. To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels. To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children's reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field."

The Newbery Medal is the very first Children’s Book Award ever given. Because of the length of it history, it is one of the best known and most discussed Children’s Book Award. Each year’s winning book bears the gold Newbery Medal on its cover, while the runners-up, now called Honor books, bear the silver version of the Newbery Medal

The Books:

1972 Mrs. Fisby & The Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
1973 Julie of The Wolves, Jean Craighead George
1974 The Slave Dancer, Paula Fox
1975 M. C. Higgins, The Great, Virginia Hamilton
1976 The Grey King, Susan Cooper
1977 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred T. Taylor
1978 Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
1979 The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
1980 A Gathering of Days: A North Eastern Girl's Journal 1830-1832, Joan W. Bloss
1981 Jacob Have I Loved, Katherine Pearson
1982 A Visit to William Blake's Inn, Nancy Willard
1983 Dicey's Song, Cynthia Voight
1984 Dear Mr. Henshaw, Beverly Cleary
1985 The Hero and The Clown, Robin McKinley
1986 Sarah, Plain, and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan
1987 The Whipping Boy, Sid Fleischman
1988 Lincoln: A Photobiography, Russell Freedman
1989 Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, Paul Fleischman
1990 Number The Stars, Lois Lowry
1991 Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli
1992 Shiloh, Phyllis Reynold Naylor
1993 Missing May, Cynthia Nylant
1994 The Giver, Lois Lowry
1995 Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
1996 The Midwife's Apprentice, Karen Cushman
1997 The View from Saturday, E. L. Konigsburg
1998 One of The Dust, Karen Hesse
1999 Holes, Louis Sachar
2000 Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis
2001 A Year Down Yonder, Richard Peck
2002 A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park
2003 Crispin: The Cross of Lead, Avi
2004 The Tale of Desperaux, Kate DiCamillo
2005 Kira-Kira, Cynthia Kadokata
2006 Criss-Cross, Lynn Rae Perkins
2007 The Higher Power of Lucky, Susan Patron
2008 Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from A Medieval Village, Laura Amy Schlitz
2009 The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
2010 When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead


To meet my goal, ten books will come from this list.

Source: “About the Newbery Medal.” Association For Library Service to Children. 2010. May 28, 2010. http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/aboutnewbery/aboutnewbery.cfm

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