The rampant success of the recent film adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are proves that you don’t have to be young to enjoy or learn from children’s literature. For decades, the American Library Association’s Association for Library Service to Children has been bestowing awards on the best of the best in books for children, and the winners of the three most prestigious awards for children’s books were just recently announced.
The Caldecott Medal is given to outstanding illustrators. Famous past winners of the bronze seal include The Polar Express (1986), Jumanji (1982) and Where the Wild Things Are (1964). This year’s winner was The Lion & the Mouse, an adaptation of a classic fable written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.
The Newbery Medal was the first award established to honor excellence in literature written especially for children. Previous honorees populate summer reading lists even today, and represent masterpieces that every person, young or old, should read. Some notables include Holes (1999), The Giver (1994), Bridge to Terabithia (1978), Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1972) and Sounder (1970). Joining the rather outstanding roster is this year’s honoree, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. The book follows the story of Miranda, a New York sixth-grader trying to make sense of growing up.
The Printz Award is given by the ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association to books that represent excellence in young-adult literature. Younger than the other major children’s book awards, it picked its first winner in 2000. This year, the top prize went to Going Bovine by Libba Bray, a story about a 16-year-old boy’s struggle with Mad Cow disease.