Every year about this time, the American Library Association (ALA.org) announces the winners of a their awards for literature for young people. Since we’re the Middle Grade Mojo, we consider the most important award the Newbery medal.
The winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal is… Jerry Craft for “New Kid”.
This is the first time a graphic novel has won! Jerry’s story about Jordan Banks, an artsy middle grader who wanted to go to an art school, but his parents enroll him in an expensive private school instead. He becomes one of the scholarship kids and one of the few students of color. Jordan has to learn how to flip back and forth between his private school persona and his inner-city self. I loved it and I think your middle grade reader will too.
And congrats to Newbery Honor books: “The Undefeated” written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson; “Scary Stories for Young Foxes” written by Christian McKay Heidicker and illustrated by Junyi Wu; “Other Words for Home” written by Jasmine Warga; “Genesis Begins Again” by Alicia D. Williams.
If you haven’t made a point of reading Newbery winners and Newbery honor books, you should. They are beautifully written and wonderfully crafted stories that are not just for children. A good book is a good book for everyone.
I haven’t read them all yet, but I’m working on it. I can honestly say that every Newbery Award winning book and Newbery honor books that I’ve read have touched me in a way that only a great story can.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them but here are some of my favorites that I think young readers would appreciate as much as I did as an adult: Holes by Louis Sachar (1999 winner); From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (1968); Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (1991); The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2009); When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2010).
What are some of your favorite Newbery books? We’d love to hear from you.