B is for Best in Show

Here’s another B word for you: Busy! As writers, with many of us trying to balance craft development and an unrelated day job, we have to be choosy with our time. Professionals in the publishing industry urge us to read widely and voraciously within our target genre. But with countless titles to choose from, what should we pull off the shelf?

That’s where book awards come in. They provide one of many filtering options you can apply when deciding what to read first. After all, prestige can be awfully enticing. Who doesn’t want to learn how to write gold medal bait?

But just who is minting these gold medals, anyway? And who put them in charge? Believe it or not, there are TONS of literary award organizations that recognize children’s literature. And guess what? Even your clever award filter needs a filter!

To do that, I decided to see which award organizations the major book sellers have deemed worthy of inclusion on their websites. Here’s the Best in Show of the Best in Show deciders that Barns & Noble includes on their Children’s Book Awards page. They display recent winners of the following awards, sorted in this order. I’ve included a brief description of each one.

Newberry Medal – The granddaddy! The John Newbery Medal has been around since 1922 was the first children’s book award in the world. The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), awards one Medalist and five runner-up Honor Books, annually. Along with the Caldecott, it is considered the most prestigious award for children’s literature.

Caldecott Medal – Making its debut in 1937, the Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the ALSC to the illustrator of the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” The committee also awards oodles of runner-up honors.

Michael Printz Award – The ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association has been pinning this one on noteworthy teen lit writers since 2000.

Coretta Scott King Award – The ALA’s Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table grants this to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books about the African American experience written for a youth audience. Author recognition began in 1978 and illustrator recognition began in 1981.

And a “More Award Winners” section that includes:

Theodor Suess Geisel Award – Inaugurated in 2006, the ALA has been recognizing distinguished authors and illustrators of beginning readers in the good doctor’s name. Oh, the places you’ll go

Stonewall Award – Sponsored by the ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table since 1971, and recognizes books of exception merit relating to the GLBT experience.

Robert F. Sibert Medal – Established by the Association for Library Service to Children in 2001, and is awarded annually to the writer and illustrator of the most distinguished informational book – “written and illustrated to present, organize, and interpret documentable, factual material.”

Margaret A. Edwards Award – Essentially a lifetime achievement award presented by the ALA to an author’s specific body of work for “significant and lasting contribution to [YA] literature.” It started as a biennial award in 1988 and switched to annual after 1990.

What published works do you hold in high esteem and why? Does having an award influence your endorsement? Does having an award make you more likely to pick up a book?



  1. Wow. What great information on awards for Children’s Literature. As I work to promote my up coming novel, I have been researching awards and contests. You were able to summarize the information well. What a great resource you have just provided to emerging authors. Looking forward to C.

  2. Great summary! Many I was familiar with, but several that are news to me.
    I certainly don’t automatically read award winning titles, but if I know a book has won an award I may give it some extra consideration. I do keep in mind that all awards like these are subjective, and it’s completely OK to disagree!

  3. What a fantastic summary! I’ve always followed winners of the Newberry Award, just because they’re yet to let me down with a book. I’m also more prone to buy books if they’ve won the Children’s Book Council of Australia award, but obviously that’s just Aussie reads 😉

  4. So many books have merit. Awarded and not. I must confess, I’m a blurb and first page or two reader. If neither of those hook me, then I’ll not likely read the book. Grew up reading Suess, Tolkien, Dahl, Lewis (Carroll and C. S.), Piers Anthony (he’s so punny), Rudyard Kipling, Lloyd Alexander, etc. etc.

  5. As a child I always looked for Newberry Medal winners. Now I simply grab what attracts my interests. Awards are nice, but so many great writers aren’t even nominated or evaluated for awards. I’m not saying the awards don’t have merit, but great writing goes beyond books with awards stamped on the jacket! 🙂 ~ Angela, A to Z participant from Web Writing Advice (http://www.webwritingadvice.com/) and Whole Foods Living (http://wholefoodsliving.blogspot.com/)

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