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Types of Awards in Literature for Children

by Lori A. Selke, studioD

You may have seen the embossed foil seals on the cover of children's books at the library or your local bookstore, but you're not sure exactly what they mean. The number of children's books awards out there can be confusing. There are awards for artwork, awards for content and awards specific to different age groups. Learning what each award means can help you choose the best books for your child.

The Caldecott Medal

President Obama reads from

The Caldecott Medal is one of several awards administered by the American Library Association. Named after the 19th-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott, it honors the artist who illustrates the most distinguished picture book for children in any given year since 1938. Past winners of the Caldecott include "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey, "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats, "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak and "Jumanji" by Chris Van Allsburg.

The Newbery Medal

Another American Library Association award, the Newbery is named after an 18th-century British bookseller by the name of John Newbery and honors the author of the most distinguished book for children published in any given year. The Newbery was established in 1922. Past winners include "The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle" by Hugh Lofting, "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor, "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo and "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson.

The National Book Award for Young People's Literature

The National Book Awards are given out each year in a number of divisions by the National Book Foundation, including awards for both fiction and nonfiction children's books. Since 1996, the award has been known as the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Past award winners include "The Great Gilly Hopkins" by Katherine Paterson, "Ramona and Her Mother" by Beverly Cleary and "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie.

The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded by the American Library Association to the best nonfiction book of the year for children. Robert F. Sibert was a bookseller in Illinois and the award in his name was established in 2002. Previous winners include "We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball" by Kadir Nelson and "Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream" by Tanya Lee Stone.

The Geisel Award

The Geisel Award is named after the children's author and illustrator, Theodor Seuss Geisel, best known by his pen name of Dr. Seuss. It honors the best book for beginning readers published in a given year and was established in 2006. Past winners include "There Is a Bird on Your Head" by Mo Willems and "Tales for Very Picky Eaters" by Josh Schneider.

The Coretta Scott King Award

Coretta Scott King was the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King, and the annual award that bears her name is given by the American Library Association to authors and illustrators whose book best displays an appreciation of African-American culture. The award was established in 1970. Previous winners include "The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales" by Virginia Hamilton, "Tar Beach" by Faith Ringgold and "Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal" by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.

About the Author

Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.

Photo Credits

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