Award-Winning Children’s Books

This is part of the Traveling Through the Pages Summer Reading Adventure. If you haven’t downloaded your printable goodies it is not too late to get started!

Every year the Association for Library Services to Children gives several awards; the most well known being the Newbery and Caldecott medals.

But did you know they have medals for the best children’s book originally published in a language other than English and another country other than the United States called the Batchelder Award?

There is the Odyssey Award for children’s audio books, the Geisel Award for great books for young readers and more that are given by other private organizations!

Below I have collected a few of my favorite award winners from when I was a kid and a few new ones I have discovered with my own children.

Award Winning Children's Books for All AgesAward Winning Children’s Books – Chapter Books

Inside Out and Back Again by Thannhha Lai – This story in a word is Amazing! A National Book Award winner and Newbery Honor book it is one you should most certainly have your children read.

Ha, a refugee from Saigon travels with her mother and brothers to America. Through their arrival in America to their eventual sponsorship by an Alabama couple Ha tells not only events but her thoughts and feelings in this first person non rhyming poem. In this way, the author explains in an interview in the back of the book, she could tell her story with a fictional character’s thought process.

It is written much the same way a Vietnamese child might think because the language is short and choppy. I was amazed however at the amount of information and feeling were conveyed in this type of writing. Ha has certain preconceived notions about America that we would laugh at. She wants to know where her American’s horse is; every American is a cowboy and has a horse.

Her family experiences rejection, hope, kindness, and finally acceptance and love in their new community. As an adult I cannot stop talking about this book and recommending it to all my friends. It is best read by a child who is old enough to have studied the Vietnam War, maybe seventh grade; they will appreciate it more.

Strawberry Girl  by Lois Lenski – A Newbery Award book, set in Florida just as it is being settled, Strawberry Girl tells the story of two families learning to live and love.

The Boyers are new in the area and deal with the Slater’s, their troublesome neighbors. I had to read this one aloud the first time through because the dialect is very difficult for a young reader to understand.

I enjoyed the adventure and no nonsense attitude of the Boyers. The ending is sweet and happy. My girls loved this children’s book and I plan on reading it to them again.

Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl – I read this Newbery Honor book the second time out loud to my husband on a long road trip. He loved it as much as I did as a kid!

The Enchantress is actually an alien girl with psychic and telekinetic powers, named Alana, tasked with helping the inhabitants of a medieval planet expel a more advanced invading force. However, this invading force is not yet advanced enough to know about her real self either.

What follows is not so much a plot full of adventure, although that is there, but one filled with ethical and moral questions. Far from turning it into a drag, these questions make it perfect for young adults who are wrestling with these questions anyway. I can’t stress enough how fantastic a read this is!

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare – Ever since reading The Bronze Bow last fall I have wondered how I missed this Newbery Award book growing up! We read The Sign of the Beaver (Newbery Honor) and The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Newbery Winner)  in school, but I liked this one the best.

Set in Israel at the time of the Roman Empire and Christ, Daniel seethes with anger against the Romans who put his father to death. It is, at its heart, a coming of age story but also a coming into faith story. We know that many Jews thought the kingdom Jesus talked about was one where the Romans were pushed out of the promised land and Israel because strong again.

Speare gives us eyes to look through as a boy and many others, Jews and Gentiles begin to realize that Jesus and his kingdom are not what they had in mind, but something so much better.

Adam of the Road  by Elizabeth Janet Gray – We read this Newbery winner out loud this year as we studied the middle ages. My girls often begged for another chapter of this charming story of a boy and his dog who have lost their way.

Adam’s father is a minstrel to wealthy lords and attends the biggest fairs every year. Adam wants to be just like his father and is well on his way with his harp, and dog Nick, who can do tricks. On the road Nick is stolen and Adam in pursuit loses his father.

The rest of the story is a quest to find both Nick and his father. I really liked all the choices that Adam had to make. Some of them were foolish and impulsive, but Adam learns and continues on. The characters he meets were fun and helped to move the story along. Most importantly for young readers, it has a happy ending!

A fantastic summer read for your lover of all things middle ages.

Award Winning Children’s Books – Picture Books

“The Caldecott Medal is awarded…to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” 

Flotsam by David Wiesner – A Caldecott Winner with no text, this is truly a picture book. A boy goes to the beach and enjoys examining all he finds. The pictures in the beginning of the book are wonderful but just wait until the boy finds an underwater camera.

After taking the film to be developed you watch his face show amazement and unbelief. Then, you get to see the pictures. Slow down here. Really enjoy. Stare, it’s ok.

The pictures remind me of Chris Van Allsburg drawings in Jumanji  (also a Caldecott winner) but have more detail and color. They are worth the hour you may spend staring at this book with your child, trust me. Talk, be silent, but do enjoy this one!

Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico by Marie Hall Ets – A Christmas in June Caldecott winner, this book is a favorite of Ruth (seven) and Sarah Joan’s (six). Over the past four years it has been brought to me many times in all seasons to be read out loud.

The story is a simple narrative of a little girl in Mexico waiting for her first posada, Christmas party. The pictures are detailed but not bright. They are interesting and unique to the story. I love it when I can see my children really getting into a story Nine Days To Christmas has always produced a very quiet audience.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Coronin – Our first introduction to the books of Doreen Coronin, this Caldecott honor book is by far our favorite! When my dad came to visit and read it to the kids he was in tears and stitches he thought it was so funny!

A fantastic summer read for your preschoolers and up. The story is funny and interesting, the pictures are colorful and, I have no idea how the illustrator did it, but the way the pictures are done reminds you of how a farm would feel.

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman – The pictures in this Caldecott honor book are mesmerizing! They are so different, yet perfectly match with the non-rhyming poem about seasonal change. Pam did a Book and a Big Idea project this spring for this book.

Anna (two) received this book for her birthday this year. Yes, it will hold a two year old’s attention!

My other children also love to have these amazing analogies read out loud to them. All the colors and senses come together to make one lovely poem you will be thinking in your head as you look at new flowers in the spring, taste summer yellows like butter and lemonade, smell the fall which is described as purple, and shade your eyes from the bright white snow.

I hope you get to enjoy some of our favorite award winning children’s books. What are your favorites?



  • Gina says:

    What great suggestions!! What age do you think is appropriate for “Enchantress from the Stars”? It sounds like something my 5th grader might enjoy.

    • Jessica says:

      I think that most children would enjoy Enchantress from the Stars much later. I would say most certainly high school. While there is nothing in the story line that is objectionable, the feel of the book is one of moral delemas and problem solving. The main character must help the younger planet but remain within certain peramiters. This causes her to question these peramiters in light of her current situation. This I am sure a struggle most teenagers can relate to. My suggestion is to save it. The conversation you have later will be worth it!

      • Gina says:

        Thanks for the input! I will add it to our list of future reads. How about the Bronze Bow? We’ll be studying that time period in our world history this year. It sounds like a great addition.

        • Jessica says:

          Depending on the strength of your reader this would make a great addition. Try it as a read aloud if you are not sure. Normally I would say this is a middle school read at least, but I know that you may not be cycling though this period of history again for awhile, so you could make it work.

          • Gina says:

            Thanks again! She is a very strong reader, so I think we’ll give it a try.

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