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Award-Winning Children's Books
Includes selected major awards and winners, 2002-2014,
and information about the awards, compiled by Harold Underdown
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The awards listed here have been updated through the ALA awards announced on January 27, 2014. I have recently removed links from individual titles to Amazon and have instead placed links to the Amazon and IndieBound home pages on each awards page.
Why awards matter, and what you'll find here
Awards are important in children's books. They tell publishers, writers, and illustrators what is considered to be "the best," and thus the standards they must strive to attain. Many children's book awards, though not all, are selected by librarians. Award-winners then get orders from libraries around the country.
Awards are also important to publishers because books that win these awards will be ordered by bookstores as soon as they are announced, and then prominently displayed with award stickers on their front covers. The most prestigious awards thus not only bestow honors but will gain increased sales from both libraries and bookstores. They will also stay in print longer. Awards are a significant part of our business.
For writers and illustrators, getting to know the award-winning books--these and the books named to end-of-year and "Notables" lists--is one of the ways to understand what is considered to be the best today, rather than 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, when we were children. We can't read every new book that's released, but we can make a point of finding the award-winners.
This section provides information about 10 US awards, most of them awarded by the American Library Association. It lists recent award winners, and some of the "honor books," announced from 2002 to 2014. This is a dual-purpose information and shopping area. So you'll find links to websites where you can purchase the book or books you want, and also links that provide more information, including the official home pages of the various awards. (Purchase of books from these pages will generate referrals that help keep this web site operating.)
The most recent award-winners are picked out in red text. This section has been updated through the ALA Awards announced in 2014.
More sources of information and places to buy award-winning books
- For even more awards, visit David K. Brown's Children's Book Awards page, which at least used to be the most comprehensive list on the Internet. It's now a few years out of date, but so comprehensive that it's still very useful.
- Database of Award-Winning Children's Literature. Compiled by a librarian, and also very comprehensive.
- The Children's Book Council has a comprehensive awards database online, but you must pay for access.
- Anastasia Suen created this Best Children's Books Lists page, to get you beyond the winner-take-all awards.
- Cynthia Leitich Smith hosts this Children's and YA Books State Awards list.
- The Children's Book Committee of Bank Street College produces an annual list of recommended books. The most recent edition is available via their home page, and they have posted a "Best of the Best" list, compiling all the starred books from the 1998 through 2009 lists, conveniently organized by age.
- And the Winner Is...: This is a great background piece on the history and impact of the Newbery and Caldecott awards.
- As a handy starting point to buy these books and other award-winners, go straight to this Amazon.com page of award-winners, including some awards not covered here.
Articles about children's book awards
Created by Harold Underdown ( Google + Profile ) using information available on public websites.
- The Bank Street Children's Books Committee Children's Book Awards: My blog entry on some awards and a "Best" list that deserve to be better-known.
- Roger Sutton on Gender Imbalances in the Caldecott [and other awards]: This starts as a short comment by Roger Sutton of The Horn Book on the disproportionate number of men among Caldecott award-winners, which kicks off a lengthy series of comments on this and other awards. Well worth browsing.
- Slippery Slopes and Proliferating Prizes: Comments by Marc Aronson from 2001: a critique of identity-based awards.