Children's Literature Award Winners

This guide lists the past & current winners of three major children's literature awards - The Caldecott, Newbery and Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Caldecott Medal and Honor Books

Caldecott Medal


 The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott.  It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Coretta Scott King Book Award

Designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards annually recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience.  Further, the Award encourages the artistic expression of the black experience via literature and the graphic arts in biographical, social, and historical treatments by African American authors and illustrators.

Newbery Medal and Honor Books

Newbery Medal


The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery.  It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service for Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Who was Randolph Caldecott?

Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) was one of a group of three influential children's illustrators working in England in the 19th century.  His illustrations for children were unique to their time in both their humor, and their ability to create a sense of movement, vitality, and action that complemented the stories they accompanied.

The illustration on the Caldecott Medal, which is taken from Caldecott's illustrations for "The Diverting Story of John Gilpin," is a perfect example of the humor, vitality and sense of movement found in Caldecott's work.  The illustration shows John Gilpin astride a runaway horse, accompanied by squawking geese, braying dogs, and startled onlookers.

Want to know more?  Check out the links below.

Literature Resource Center

Randolph Caldecott Society UK

Randolph Caldecott Society of America

Who was Coretta Scott King?

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006) was an American civil rights activist and the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.  She established a distinguished career in activism in her own right.  Working side by side with her husband, she took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and worked to pass the Civil Rights Act.  After King's death, she founded the Center for Nonviolent Social Change in America.

The Coretta Scott King Award was designed by Levi Mills.  The basic circle represents continuity in movement, resolving from one idea to another.  Within the circle is the image of an African American child reading a book.  The five main religious symbols below the image of the child represent nonsectarianism.  The superimposed pyramid symbolizes both strength and Atlanta University, the award's headquarters when the seal was designed.  At the apex of the pyramid is the dove, symbolic of peace.  The rays shine toward peace and brotherhood.  

The bronze seal denotes a Coretta Scott King Book Award author or illustrator winner; the silver denotes an author or illustrator honoree; and the green seal denotes a John Steptoe Award for New Talent recipient.

Want to know more?  Check out the links below.

Academy of Achievement biography

The King Center

Who was John Newbery?

John Newbery (1713-1767) was an English publisher.  In 1744 he set up a bookshop and publishing house in London, and it became one of the first to publish children's books.  In 1781 his firm published the first collection of nursery rhymes associated with Mother Goose.

The Newbery Medal was designed in 1921 by Rene Paul Chambellan.  The inscription on the Newbery  Medal still reads "Children's Librarians' Section,"  although the section has changed its name and its membership now includes both school and public library children's librarians.    In June 1921, Fredric Melcher proposed the award to the ALA meeting and suggested that it be named for English bookseller, John Newbery.  The official proposal was approved in 1922.  In Melcher's formal agreement with the board, the purpose of the medal was stated as follows:  "To encourage original creative work in the field of books for children.  To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels.  To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children's reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field."

Want to learn more?  Check out the links below.

Mother Goose

Literature Resource Center