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August 10, 2016
In just four days, at 8:00 in the morning in a small room in Philadelphia, the most prestigious awards in children’s literature will be announced. The oldest and most well-known of these is the John Newbery Medal.
Ninety-three years ago, Frederick G. Melcher, a publisher, bookseller, and editor, proposed the creation of an award: “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 award was named for an 18th-century bookseller and became the first children’s book award in the world.
What I love about the Newbery is not just the history of its creation, but the rich history of books that have won the medal. Books that have defied or defined genres, challenged our views, and been phenomenally engrossing for any kind of reader. Here are books that kids want to read.
Every fan of The Hunger Games should look back and enter the haunting and chilling world of Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
Miranda’s favorite book in When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is Madeline L’Engle’s brilliant A Wrinkle in Time, which stood up and said science fiction can be for kids. And like the time travel in these books, winners past and present are tied up together.
Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown began my love for fantasy books and led me back to Lloyd Alexander’s The High King and Susan Cooper’s The Grey King. And both of those authors led to my ardent but doomed desire to learn Welsh one summer.
Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee convinced me I could survive anything in my city, and Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves that I could survive anything outside of it (provided there were no spiders involved).
When I moved to New York City, I found myself bursting with excitement to go into the Met like Claudia from From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, even if I knew I could never pull off so grand a scheme as she did. Upon my first encounter with a rat in the subway I found myself remembering Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien.
These are some of the books that have followed me all my life, and every year I look forward to the newest one to join their ranks. On Monday morning I will be waiting with book lovers everywhere to discover it.
These and many other Newbery Award and Honor books are available online now. Click here for available titles.
About the Author: Kristin Standley is the manager of the Middle Schoolers Reading Club.
January 23, 2014