TERMS and CRITERIA
John Newbery Medal
1. The Medal shall be awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published in English in the United States during the preceding year. There are no limitations as to the character of the book considered except that it be original work. Honor Books may be named. These shall be books that are also truly distinguished.
2. The Award is restricted to authors who are citizens or residents of the United States.
3. The committee in its deliberations is to consider only the books eligible for the award, as specified in the terms.
1. "Contribution to American literature" indicates the text of a book. It also implies that the committee shall consider all forms of writing - fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Reprints and compilations are not eligible.
2. A "contribution to American literature for children" shall be a book for which children are a potential audience. The book displays respect for children's understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen, and books for this entire age range are to be considered.
3. "Distinguished" is defined as:
marked by eminence and distinction: noted for significant achievement
marked by excellence in quality
marked by conspicuous excellence or eminence
4. "Author" may include co-authors. The author(s) may be awarded the medal posthumously.
5. In defining the term, "original work," the committee will consider books that are traditional in origin, if the book is the result of original research and the retelling and interpretation are the writer's own.
6. "American literature published in the United States" means that books originally published in other countries are not eligible.
7. "Published . . . in the preceding year" means that the book has a publication date in that year, was available for purchase in that year, and has a copyright date no later than that year. A book might have a copyright date prior to the year under consideration but, for various reasons, was not published until the year under consideration. If a book is published prior to its year of copyright as stated in the book, it shall be considered in its year of copyright as stated in the book. The intent of the definition is that every
book be eligible for consideration, but that no book be considered in more than one year.
8. "Resident" specifies that author has established and maintained residence in the United States as distinct from being a casual or occasional visitor.
9. The term, "only the books eligible for the Award," specifies that the committee is not to consider the entire body of the work by an author or whether the author has previously won the award. The committee's decision is to be made following deliberation about books of the specified calendar year.
10. The term, "in English" means that the committee considers only books published in English. This requirement DOES NOT limit the use of words or phrases in another language where appropriate in context.
1. In identifying "Distinguished Writing" in a book for children,
a. Committee members need to consider the following:
Interpretation of the theme or concept
Presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization
Development of a plot
Delineation of characters
Delineation of setting
Appropriateness of style
Note: Because the literary qualities to be considered will vary depending on content, the committee need not expect to find excellence in each of the named elements. The book should, however, have distinguished qualities in all of the elements pertinent
b.Committee members must consider excellence of presentation for a child audience.
2. Each book is to be considered as a contribution to literature. The committee is to make its decision primarily on the text. Other aspects of a book are to be considered only if they distract from the text. Such other aspects might include illustrations, overall design of the book, etc.
3. The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media (i.e., sound or film equipment) for its enjoyment.
Note: The committee should keep in mind that the award is for literary quality and quality presentation for children. The award is not for didactic intent or for popularity.
Adopted by the ALSC Board, January 1978. Revised, Midwinter 1987.