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:

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2015 Winner(s)

The Crossover

Written by Kwame Alexander and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Twelve-year-old narrator Josh Bell uses the rhythms of a poetry jam to emulate the "moving & grooving/popping and rocking" of life on the basketball court with his twin brother, J.B. This powerful novel in verse paints an authentic portrait of a closely-knit family on the brink of crisis. Swish! This book is nothing but net!

2015 Honor(s)

Brown Girl Dreaming

Written by Jacqueline Woodson and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical memoir chronicles the incidents and emotions she experienced as an African-American girl growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Precise language magnifies moments and connects them to the larger historical narrative. Her elegant and evocative standalone poems weave a story about her development from a struggling reader and dreamer into a confident young woman and writer.

El Deafo

Written by Cece Bell, illustrated by Cece Bell and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS

In this insightful and humorous graphic novel memoir, Cece Bell portrays growing up with a giant hearing aid strapped to her chest. Themes of navigating a new school, sleepovers, finding a true friend and a first crush make this book universal in appeal. Bell shows that our differences are gifts that “can be turned into something amazing.”