Reading the Newbery Medal Winners

My niece has a challenge at her middle school to read as many of the Newbery Medal winners as she can, so I took a look at the list to see what I could recommend.  It was fun to remember so many favorite books, kind of like wandering through the children’s section of the library.  Some of my favorites?  Wrinkle in Time, Dicey’s Song, Dr. Doolittle, The Giver, Holes, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  I also remember enjoying Island of the Blue Dolphins, Caddie Woodlawn, The Westing Game, and Strawberry Girl.

The Newbery award is one of the most prestigious American literary awards for children’s books; it’s awarded for the greatest contribution each year in American children’s literature.  These books really stay with you, and even influence your life in some ways.  For me, the best ones portrayed girls living in totally different worlds, facing unique challenges.  Meg Murry and Dicey Tillerman were girls that could do things I couldn’t; girls who were brave in the face of danger; girls who weren’t afraid to be different.

That’s not true of all these books of course.  The Giver is brilliant science fiction and Mrs. Frisby is great children’s fantasy.  Some of these books are humorous (Holes) some are scary (The Graveyard Book) and some mysterious (The Westing Game).  It was interesting to see how many fantasy books are represented on this list – we’re somehow more willing to see fantasy as great children’s literature than as literature for adults.

The Newbery Awards aren’t perfect, and many of my favorite books and authors are missing from the list.  Charlotte’s Web was actually a runner up in the Newbery award; it lost to Secret of the Andes and received a Newbery Honor award instead.  The Cricket in Times Square was also a runner up and is a Newbery Honor recipient.  Also surprising is the lack of anything by Roald Dahl.  And what about Where the Red Fern Grows?

I was surprised by how many on the list I hadn’t read.  Of course I haven’t read many of the recent ones – but in total I didn’t find more than about fifteen I’d read.  So I decided to join my niece’s challenge and read a few.  The ones I’m most interested in are:

  1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  2. The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
  3. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  4. The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
  5. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
  6. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  7. The Grey King by Susan Cooper
  8. The High King by Lloyd Alexander
  9. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  10. The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (because I was in Krakow last year)

I think I’ll try to read five of these this year (not that I need any more challenges) and I’m starting with The Graveyard Book.  Interested in joining me?  What are your favorite Newbery books?

Here’s the full list of Newbery winners:

2012: Dead End in Norveltby Jack Gantos

2011: Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

2010: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean

2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz

2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illus. by Matt Phelan

2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins

2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

1999: Holes by Louis Sachar

1998: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

1996: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry

1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant

1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

1991: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

1990: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman

1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman

1987: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

1985: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

1983: Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt

1982: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard

1981: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

1980: A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan W. Blos

1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

1976: The Grey King by Susan Cooper

1975: M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton

1974: The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox

1973: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

1971: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars

1970: Sounder by William H. Armstrong

1969: The High King by Lloyd Alexander

1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

1967: Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt

1966: I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino

1965: Shadow of a Bullby Maia Wojciechowska

1964: It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville

1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

1962: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

1960: Onion John by Joseph Krumgold

1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

1958: Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith

1957: Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

1956: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

1955: The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong

1954: …And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold

1953: Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark

1952: Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes

1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates

1950: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli

1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry

1948: The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois

1947: Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

1946: Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski

1945: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson

1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

1943: Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray

1942: The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds

1941: Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry

1940: Daniel Boone by James Daugherty

1939: Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright

1938: The White Stag by Kate Seredy

1937: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer

1936: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

1935: Dobry by Monica Shannon

1934: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs

1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis

1932: Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth

1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly

1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji

1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James

1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman

1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger

1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes

1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

1922: The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon


  4 comments for “Reading the Newbery Medal Winners

  1. February 12, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I love love love The Graveyard Book. I hope you have as much luck with it as I did. And I love the idea of this challenge!!! I think your niece will enjoy it.

  2. August 24, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    I know I’m about a year and a half late in commenting on this post, but I just found your blog and I have to say I love The Hero and the Crown. Just read it last winter. I think it’s more a young adult book, though, and it’s actually shelved in the adult section in my library. Any age can enjoy it. And Jacob Have I Loved is one of my very favorite books. I’m curious to know which Newberry Award winners you read out of your list.

  3. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review
    October 29, 2014 at 6:41 am

    My favorite Newbery books are A Wrinkle in Time, The Westing Game, and The Hero and the Crown. I also love the Dark Is Rising series and the Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander, although the committee didn’t pick my favorite book from those series. I’ve read shamefully few of the later winners, though I did like When You Reach Me and The Graveyard Book. Have fun with your challenge!

  4. Sarah
    August 10, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Great list! How did you like the books you chose to read? BTW, Roald Dahl is missing because the Newbery Award is limited to American authors published by American publishing houses. Dahl is British.

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