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Give That Book a Medal!

Two big book prizes are announced in January. Check out some past prize winners!

Two kids lie on the floor reading picture books.

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January is a big month in the world of books! Every year at the end of the month, the American Library Association (ALA) announces the winners of the biggest children’s book prizes in the world: the Newbery Medal and the Caldecott Medal. 

The Newbery Medal is given to the author of the best U.S. children’s book published the year before. It’s not easy to pick the best out of a list of terrific books. So the ALA also awards Newbery Honors. This prize goes to a small number of other books the ALA wants to recognize for excellence.

The ALA recognizes children’s book illustrators with the Caldecott Medal. This prize is given to the artist who created the best illustrations for a U.S. picture book published the year before. Caldecott Honors go to other books the ALA wants to recognize.  

How can you find these award-winning books? You can ask a teacher or librarian to help you. Newbery or Caldecott Medal winners have a round gold seal on their covers. Newbery or Caldecott Honors books have a silver seal. These seals let readers know that these books are some of the best in the world. 

Here are just a few Newbery Medal winners to check out.


Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

Best for ages 9 and up

Crispin is a 13-year-old boy who lives in the 1300s. He knows very little about himself—not even his own name. After he is accused of a terrible crime, Crispin must run away from his village. As he runs from his enemies, he learns who he really is.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. 

Best for ages 8 and up

Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a cage at a shopping mall. When a baby elephant named Ruby is brought to live there, Ivan starts to wonder if this is the best life for his new friend. 

Thorndike Press


New Kid by Jerry Craft

Best for ages 8 and up

Twelve-year-old Jordan loves to draw, and he wants to go to a school where he can learn more about art. Instead, his parents send him to a school where he is one of the only Black students.

Quill Tree Books


When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Best for ages 9 and up

Twelve-year-old Lily and her family move in with her grandmother, who is ill. A magical tiger appears and promises to make Lily’s grandmother better. But there’s a price to pay.

Random House Books for Young Readers


The Last Cuentista by Donna Barbra Higuera

Best for ages 10 and up

After a group of people move to a new planet, 12-year-old Petra finds that no one else remembers Earth. Only Petra has the stories of the past. Only she can protect the future.

Levine Querido

Two sides of a face with eyes closed and one side showing under the skin.
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Fun Fact

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The Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, New York, says its most borrowed book is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are won the Caldecott Medal in 1963.

An Artist’s Life

Jerry Pinkney poses with one of his books open holding a pen to sign it.

Alvin Trusty

Many artists create beautiful illustrations for picture books. Jerry Pinkney was one of the best. 

Pinkney started drawing when he was a kid. For Pinkney, art wasn’t just a fun hobby. He found that drawing helped him stay calm. 

Life wasn’t always easy for Pinkney when he was growing up. School could be hard because Pinkney had dyslexia. When a person has dyslexia, their brain works in a way that can make it hard to read. Pinkney also experienced racism. Because they were Black, he and his family weren’t always treated fairly. Sometimes Pinkney was confused or upset. But when he was drawing, he felt calm and happy. 

When Pinkney grew up, he drew pictures for more than 100 children’s books. In 2010, Pinkney won the Caldecott Medal for a book called The Lion & the Mouse. It tells a very old fable (story) using no words—only pictures. Pinkney also won five Caldecott Honors for other books.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Jerry Pinkney illustrated The Lion & the Mouse.

Jerry Pinkney died in 2021. He was 81. Before his death, Pinkney wrote a book for kids called Just Jerry. The book came out in January 2023. It tells the story of Pinkney’s life—not just in words, but also in pictures.

Old and New Books!

Boston Public Library

The first picture book for children came out in 1659! This is a page from that book. Learn more about books for kids at Britannica School.

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Word of the Day


Part of speech:



: something (such as a title or medal) that is given to a person as a sign of respect and admiration

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All of these words are about books. How many can you find?


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