Award-Winning Children’s Books

Looking for top-quality children’s literature to enrich your child’s life? Here’s a selection of nine award-winners. Each one has been honored with the prestigious Newbery Medal, which is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux)

In the small town of Norvelt, Jack is looking forward to a summer playing baseball with his friends. Instead, he ends up grounded, his only opportunities to leave the house occurring when his elderly neighbor requires his assistance writing obituaries for the newspaper. To his surprise, he begins to look forward to his sessions as her scribe, and strange and wonderful adventures ensue, including 12-year-old Jack driving an ancient car, a home operation on the kitchen table to stop his nosebleeds, frequent visits to the undertaker’s, and, ultimately, a murder mystery.

Ages: 10-14

 
Last Stop on Market Street

by Matt de la Peña (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty – and fun – in their routine and the world around them.

Ages: 3-5

 
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)

Comic book fan and natural-born cynic Flora Belle Buckman and Ulysses, a flying, superhero, poetry-writing squirrel, join forces to overcome Ulysses’ arch-nemesis, Flora’s mother, who believes squirrels are filthy beasts and wants Flora to have nothing to do with him. Can Flora and Ulysses overcome evil and save the day? Through poignant, laugh-out-loud episodes, this homage to comic books is a testament to the power of love.

Ages: 8-12

 
The One and Only Ivan

by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

This unforgettable novel celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by actual events about Ivan, a gorilla put on display at a mall and his journey to freedom, the story comes to life as it’s told from the viewpoint of Ivan himself. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes. Filled with wry humor and thought-provoking insights into the nature of friendship, hope and humanity.

Ages: 8-12

Moon over Manifest

by Clare Vanderpool (Delacorte Press)

Abilene feels abandoned after her father sends her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. In this dried-up, worn-out old town of Manifest, her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers some mysterious letters that mention a spy. Abilene and her two new friends set off on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave well enough alone.” It seems that town’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters – and long-held secrets. And as those secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Ages: 8-12

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

by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press).

Readers will enjoy this enchanting account of a smaller-than-usual mouse in love with music, stories and a princess named Pea. The tiny hero faints at loud noises but gathers the courage to fulfill his dreams. With a plot far more complex than the traditional fairy tale, the fates of several characters are threaded together as Despereaux undertakes a hero’s quest. The story culminates in mice, rats and humans living almost happily ever after.

Ages: 7-10

Out of the Dust

by Karen Hesse (Scholastic)

This gripping story, written in sparse first-person, free-verse poems, is the compelling tale of Billie Jo’s struggle to survive during the dust bowl years of the Depression. With stoic courage, she learns to cope with the loss of her mother and her grieving father’s slow deterioration. There is hope at the end when Billie Jo’s badly burned hands are healed, and she is able to play her beloved piano again.

Ages: 10-13

Holes

by Louis Sachar (Farrar Straus Giroux)

Stanley is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. He serves his sentence at Camp Green Lake, a dry, flat wasteland where the warden assigns each inmate the task of digging one deep hole every day. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character building going on here. The boys are digging holes because the warden is looking for something. And so the plot thickens in this inventive and darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment – and redemption.

Ages: 10-13

Crispin: The Cross of Lead

by Avi (Hyperion Books for Children)

This action-packed page-turner set in
14th-century England sustains tension and suspense from beginning to end. When 13-year-old Crispin is suddenly orphaned, stripped of home and possessions, and accused of murder, he flees his village and falls in with a juggler, Bear, who becomes his protector and teacher. Relentlessly pursued by enemies, the pair flees to solve the mystery of his identity and fight for freedom in this riveting adventure.

Ages: 10-15