Almost any book that gets a child reading has value, but some books offer extraordinary reading experiences; teaching a valuable lesson or expanding the way a child sees the world. Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) announces the year’s top books for children, including the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott medals, at the Youth Media Awards. Here are a few to check out with your kids.
John Newbery Medal, for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:
by Erin Entrada Kelly; illustrated by Isabel Roxas (Greenwillow Books, 2017)
The lives of four kids—a shy boy, a deaf girl, a self-proclaimed 12-year-old psychic, and the neighborhood bully—weave together unexpectedly in one day. They aren’t friends, until a prank involving a guinea pig disaster and rescue bring them all together.
Randolph Caldecott Medal, for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
by Matthew Cordell (Feiwel & Friends, 2017)
In this nearly wordless picture book, a little girl in a red coat finds a wolf pup during a blizzard. She trudges through the storm with the pup as she hears the wolf pack howling, in a story that displays kindness, cooperation, and bravery through Cordell’s pen-and-ink-with-watercolor illustrations.
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, for the most distinguished book for beginning readers:
by Laurel Snyder; illustrated by Emily Hughes (Chronicle Books, 2017)
Follow two brothers, Charlie and Mouse, through four different stories, as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. Great as a read-aloud or for kids not yet ready for early chapter books, Charlie & Mouse captures the relationship between siblings, with a sense of humor.
The Schneider Family Book Award, for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience (young children):
by Allen Say (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017)
A tribute to American artist James Castle who couldn’t hear and never learned to speak, Allen Say depicts the obstacles Castle had to overcome to be an artist. When he had difficulty making friends, he created them out of cardboard. When they took away his art materials, he made art from soot and paper from the trash.
Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, honoring Latino illustrators whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:
by Susan Middleton Elya; illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017)
In a bilingual retelling of the classic story by Hans Christian Andersen, The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh Latino twist, with vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru. The queen has a secret test in mind to find out if the girl is really a princesa, but the prince has a sneaky plan, too.
More Award Winners:
Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognizing an African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults
Piecing Me Together
by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour (Dutton Books for Young Readers)