John Newbery Medal

About the John Newbery Medal
The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

In 1921 Frederic G.Melcher had the Newbery Medal designed by René Paul Chambellan. The bronze medal has the winner's name and the date engraved on the back. The American Library Association Executive Board in 1922 delegated to the Children's Librarians' Section the responsibility for selecting the book to receive the Newbery Medal.

The inscription on the Newbery Medal still reads "Children's Librarians' Section," although the section has changed its name four times and its membership now includes both school and public library children's librarians in contrast to the years 1922-58, when the section, under three different names, included only public library children's librarians. Today the Medal is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of ALA.

How the Newbery Medal Came to Be

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year. On June 22, 1921, Frederic G. Melcher proposed the award to the American Library Association meeting of the Children's Librarians' Section and suggested that it be named for the eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery. The idea was enthusiastically accepted by the children's librarians, and Melcher's official proposal was approved by the ALA Executive Board in 1922. In Melcher's formal agreement with the board, the purpose of the Newbery Medal was stated as follows: "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 Award thus became the first children's book award in the world. Its terms, as well as its long history, continue to make it the best known and most discussed children's book award in this country.

From the beginning of the awarding of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, committees could, and usually did, cite other books as worthy of attention. Such books were referred to as Newbery or Caldecott "runners-up." In 1971 the term "runners-up" was changed to "honor books." The new terminology was made retroactive so that all former runners-up are now referred to as Newbery or Caldecott Honor Books.

Administered by:

Association for Library Service to Children logo

2018 Winner(s)

Hello, Universe

written by Erin Entrada Kelly and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Filipino folklore and real life converge at the bottom of a well. Even while following signs and portents, the characters are the definition of creative agency. Masterfully told through shifting points of view, this modern quest tale shimmers with humor and authentic emotion. 
“This reading community celebrates the panoply of American literature for children published in 2017. We are delighted to share our selections with the world,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Cecilia P. McGowan.

2018 Honor(s)

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

written by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James and published by Bolden, an Agate Imprint, a Denene Millner Book

A boy walks into a barbershop; a prince walks out. Through lyrical free verse, Derrick Barnes’joyous paean celebrates the universal, transformative, confidence-building experience of a great haircut. 

Long Way Down

written by Jason Reynolds and published by Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book

Terse, sharp verse depicts a desperate teenager seeking to avenge the shooting death of his brother. Gun tucked into his waistband, he is shocked by the appearance of childhood friends and relatives on a chilling sixty-second elevator ride. Visceral language and raw emotion result in a powerful novel of grief and vengeance.

Piecing Me Together

written by Renée Watson and published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

I am learning to speak. To give myself a way out. A way in.” Jade’s mixed media collages evolve as she finds her voice. Through artful and poetic language, Watson explores themes of race, class, gender and body image in this dynamic journey.