In the early days of children’s book awards there were two: the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children and the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children. The Newbery Medal was first awarded in 1922 and the Caldecott Medal in 1938.
Other awards for children’s literature have been added over time. We collect titles that have won the Michael L. Printz Award for literary excellence in young adult literature, which was first awarded in 2000. We also collect the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award winners which are the most distinguished beginning readers published during the preceding year. This award started in 2006. There is also the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction which has been in existence since 1984, and the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal (for non-fiction books), awarded since 2001.
All of the awards listed above, except for the Scott O’Dell Award, are overseen by the American Library Association. The Reta King Library collects five other American Library Association or library association affiliate award winners.
Coretta Scott King Book Awards – These awards are 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 to work for peace. These awards annually recognize outstanding books for children and young adults by African American illustrators and authors that reflect the African American experience. The author award began in 1970, the illustrator award was first awarded in 1974.
Pura Belpre Awards – This award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
Schneider Family Book Awards – The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. This award is given to three age levels; Teen book, Middle School book, and Young Children’s book. This award was first given in 2004.
Stonewall Book Awards – These awards are presented to English-language books that have exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered experience. Awards are given in both children’s and young adult categories. This award was established in 2010.
American Indian Youth Literature Awards – This award is determined by the American Indian Library Association and is awarded every two years. The awards were established as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. Books selected to receive the award present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts. This award is given in three categories; Picture Book, Middle School, and Young Adult. The award was established in 2006.
Children’s books show the diversity in our world and awards have been created to honor them. The awards have also sought to encourage children and young adult book authors and publishers to show more diversity. This is important so children can see how other children around the world, or even across the street, experience life differently. The Reta King Library collects these books for four reasons: 1) for Children’s Literature and Young Adult Literature classes; 2) for Education majors to use as supplemental sources; 3) for local children to read; 4) because they are special, award winning books.