Hey girls, hold on tight because today’s post is going to be lickety-split. Typing this up on my lunch break and talkin’ ’bout Newbery Medal winners.
Yesterday’s post reviewed the 2016 Newbery Medal winner Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. CJ’s nana helps him to realize there is beauty and goodness in even the impoverished, inner-city neighborhood of his home.
If you missed that review, please click here to read it first.
The Newbery Medal has been awarded annually since 1922 by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. As an elementary school librarian, I have always felt like it was part of the job description that I keep up with all the notable new books coming out each year. Which translates into a lot of reading. And even though I am a librarian, there are some books and genres that just don’t float my boat. I try to be aware of those titles, maybe know something of the plot and the author. But this girl is such a slow reader, I sure don’t want to wade through page after endless page of something I don’t even WANT to read! Ha!
That is the case with the Newbery Medal winners, too. I wanted to share an image of all of the Newbery Medal winners here so you (and I) could see that we may be familiar with or have even read a number of them. Here’s an image of all of the past winners.
A little hard to see those book covers, you say? I had that trouble, too! I found this image that features the covers of the Newbery winners from 1980-2016, which is probably about as long as I have been following the award, so let’s check it out.
Better? We might be able to take off our readers with this one. These books are, for the most part, 4th-6th grade reading level. Some of my favorite children’s chapter books/novels are on this list.
- 1984 Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, 4.9 reading level ; In his letters to his favorite author, ten-year-old Leigh reveals his problems in coping with his parents’ divorce, being the new boy in school, and generally finding his own place in the world. Available here.
- 1990 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, 4.5 reading level ; In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns how to be courageous when she helps shelter her Jewish friend from the Nazis. So good. Purchase here.
- 1991 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, 4.7 reading level ; After his parents die, Jeffrey Lionel Magee’s life becomes legendary as he accomplishes athletic and other feats which awe his contemporaries. Available here.
- 1994 The Giver by Lois Lowry, (Terrific author) 5.7 reading level ; While training to be the Receiver of Memory, Jonas experiences joy and sadness for the first time. He becomes convinced his society has given up too much, and he can no longer accept the sameness. Get your copy here.
- 1996 The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman, 6.0 reading level ; In medieval England, a nameless, homeless girl is taken in by a sharp-tempered midwife, and in spite of obstacles and hardship, eventually gains the three things she most wants: a full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world. Love this book! Read my review here. Buy here.
- 1999 Holes by Louis Sachar (great author), 4.6 reading level ; As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert. Also a movie. Get your copy here.
Of the Newbery Medal winners since 2012, I have only read one, in addition to this year’s title. The 2013 winner is one of my all-time favorite books, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, 3.6 reading level ; When Ivan, a gorilla that has lived for years in a down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has been added to the mall, he decides he must find her a better life.
Without realizing it, I read a 2016 Newbery Medal Honor Book and reviewed it on the blog earlier this summer. It is also on this year’s Bluebonnet Award Master List. Click here to read my review of The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, 4.1 reading level ; A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother. The plot contains violence, including descriptions of child abuse. Available here.
And that’s my eighth post of this “31 Days of Writing” series. Hope maybe you will try reading one of the Newbery Medal winners with a child you love. If you have a favorite Newbery, please share in a comment below.
Before I close, I want to share a bit of de la Peña’s Newbery acceptance speech. Read the entire speech, here. It is quite moving and brutally honest about some of the “classics” we inflict upon children in high school English classes. You have to read to be a reader, and if you are assigned to read things that mean nothing to you or your life, chances are…you aren’t going to read them. No matter how well-written ‘literary scholars’ have determined them to be. I give you Matt de la Peña.
I didn’t read past page twenty-seven of The Catcher in the Rye, but I read Basketball Digest cover to cover. Every single month. I’d show up at my junior high library an hour before school, find an empty table in back, and tuck the latest issue inside the covers of the most high-brow book I could find — usually some Russian novel with a grip of names I couldn’t pronounce. Mrs. Frank, the warm-smiling librarian, would occasionally stroll past my table and say, “War and Peace, huh? How are you liking that one so far?”
“Oh, it’s great, miss,” I’d tell her. “I really like all the wars and stuff. And how it eventually turns peaceful.” She’d grin and nod and move on to the next table. I’d grin, too, marveling at my own slick ways. But then a few days later she’d confuse me by sliding the newest Basketball Digest across the table to me with a wink.
Back then I never would’ve described myself as a reader, but Mrs. Frank knew better. And the truth is, I wasn’t reading those magazines for stats or standings, I was reading to find out what certain players had to overcome to get where they were. I was in it for the narrative. And what I found in some of the better articles wasn’t that inferior to what I would later discover when I read War and Peace for real.
Lunch break is long over and it is time to start my weekend. Marking off one of the items on my Autumn Bucket List tonight. Hope you will stop back by next week to find out how I am faring on that list.
Enjoy your weekend.
Hugs and kisses,