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

2007 Winner(s)

The Higher Power of Lucky

written by Susan Patron, illustrated by Matt Phelan, published by Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson.

In “The Higher Power of Lucky,” Patron takes us to the California desert community of Hard Pan (population 43). Ten-year-old Lucky Trimble eavesdrops on 12-step program meetings from her hiding place behind Hard Pan’s Found Object Wind Chime Museum & Visitor Center. Eccentric characters and quirky details spice up Lucky’s life just as her guardian Brigitte’s fresh parsley embellishes her French cuisine.

“‘Lucky’ is a perfectly nuanced blend of adventure, survival (emotional and physical) and hilarious character study... as well as a blueprint for a self-examined life,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Jeri Kladder. “Through Lucky’s experiences, we are reminded that children support one another just as needy adults do.”

2007 Honor(s)

Hattie Big Sky

by Kirby Larson (Delacorte Press)

In “Hattie Big Sky,” 16-year-old orphan Hattie Brooks is looking for a place to belong – a home. In 1918 she leaves Iowa for the Montana prairie. In this engaging first-person narrative, Hattie strives to forge a new life. Vivid imagery and careful attention to historical detail distinguish this memorable novel that portrays her struggle to “prove her claim.” 


Penny from Heaven

by Jennifer L. Holm, (Random House)

In Holm’s book, 11-year-old Penny looks forward to spending the summer rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers and scheming with her cousin Frankie. Instead she navigates the space between her two families and uncovers the reason for their estrangement in this funny and touching tale of intergenerational love set in 1953.


Rules

by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic)

“A boy can take off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts.” Twelve-year-old Catherine creates rules for her younger, autistic brother David in an attempt to normalize his life and her own; but what is normal?  In the debut novel, “Rules,” Lord’s heroine learns to use words to forge connections with her brother, her workaholic father and a paraplegic friend. With humor and insight, Lord demonstrates the transforming power of language.