Literary awards are granted to deserving authors, illustrators and publishers whose contributions are deemed significant primarily in promoting reading in various age groups. In the US alone, there are over 200 known literary awards. Nevertheless, most libraries, schools, and book lovers and collectors still value award-winning books and literary pieces. Most of these award-winning titles often end up on display shelves for everyone to see.
The following awards are some of the most prestigious literary awards in the US:
The Newbery Medal is the first children’s literary award in the world and it was established in 1922. The said award was named after John Newbery, an English book publisher whose efforts proved that the publication of children’s literature is profitable. The Newbery Medal is awarded annually to distinguished writers of children’s books. The Newbery Medal is one of the most prestigious literary awards in the US.
The Caldecott Medal is awarded to the artist of the most prestigious picture book for kids in the United States. In order for a book to qualify for the award, it should be published in the same year as the awarding of the Caldecott Medal. The Caldecott Medal Award was established in honor of Randolph Caldecott, a 19th Century illustrator. Aside from the Caldecott Medal awardees, the board may also give due recognition to some books by naming them “Worthy Runners-Up”.
Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
The Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award is given to an author, critic, librarian, historian or even a teacher of children’s literature. Candidates could come from different parts of the world. The Lecture Awardee is expected to deliver a lecture sometime around April. The lecture would then be published in Children and Libraries, Association for Library Service to Children’s official journal. The Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award was established in 1969 in honor of May Hill Arbuthnot who’s greatest contribution as an author was the literary piece entitled Children and Books.
The Batchelder Award was named after ALSC’s former executive director, Mildred L. Batchelder. The award was first presented in 1966. From then on, it was given annually to honor American children’s books publishers, who published books that were originally written in foreign languages. The said books were translated to English prior to their publication in the US. The award was established to encourage American publishers to seek outstanding foreign children’s books.
The Belpre Medal was named after Pura Belpre, a Latina whose work gave importance to Puerto Rican folklore. Pura Belpre was also the first Latina librarian to work for the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpre Award can be given to a Latino or Latina writer and/or illustrator whose literary work for children portrays the Latino cultural experience. The Belpre Medal was established in 1996 and was given every other year, until the year 2009. From 2009, the Pura Belpre was awarded annually.
The Carnegie Medal is a literary award that is given annually. It was established in 1936 in honor of the Scottish philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. The said award is granted to the most outstanding children’s and/or young adult book of the year. In order to become a candidate for the Carnegie Medal, the book should be written in English. In addition, it should also be published in the UK.
The Geisel Medal was named after Theodor Geisel or commonly known as Dr. Seuss. He is a very renowned author of children’s books. The Geisel Medal is awarded to authors and/or illustrators of books for beginning readers. The said award was first presented in 2006.
Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production
The Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production was named after the epic poem The Odyssey. This is because The Odyssey exemplifies the ancient oral tradition of storytelling. The Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production is given annually to the best kids’ audiobook producer. The ALSC and the YALSA also decide which Odyssey Award Honor titles to select each year.
Sibert Informational Book Medal
The Sibert Informational Book Medal is for authors and illustrators of US-published informational books. The said award was named after Robert F. Sibert, the longtime president of the Stay Bound Book. The Sibert Informational Book Medal was first presented in 2001. This award is currently administered by the ALSC.
The Wilder Award recognizes writers and illustrators of outstanding US-published children’s books. The Wilder Award is given to authors who have made substantial contributions to children’s literature for years. The said award was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder, the first recipient of the bronze medal. The award was first presented in 1955. From then on until 1980, the award was given every 5 years. Starting in 1980, it was awarded every 3 years. Since 2001, it has been given every 2 years.
Coretta Scott King Book Awards
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards was named after Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta Scott King. The said award aims to recognize African American authors and illustrators of young adult and children’s books. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards is currently being administered by the Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Roundtable.
Schneider Family Book Award
The Schneider Family Book Award is given annually to authors and/or illustrators of books that portray aspects of living with any form of disability. The said work of literature, in order to qualify for the Schneider Family Award, should be aimed for young adults and younger audiences. The Schneider Award is looking for recipients in three different categories, namely: Birth through Grade School, Middle School and Teens.
The Printz Award was established to honor books that exemplify literary excellence. It’s aimed towards promoting young adult literature. It was named after Michael L. Printz, a librarian who was also an active member of the YALSA. The said award was first presented in 2000.
Margaret A. Edwards Award
The Margaret A. Edwards Award is a literary award granted annually to authors, who have made significant contributions to young adult literature. The award is focused on helping young adults become more responsible of their roles in society. It is also aimed towards helping young adults gain an understanding of themselves. The Margaret A. Edwards Award was first given in 1988.
The Alex Award is awarded annually to adult books that create a special appeal to young adults. This award was first given in 1998. It was also named after Margaret A. Edward’s nickname, which is “Alex”.