Every winter, the library and publishing worlds eagerly anticipate the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. For publishers, it’s a chance to celebrate the critical success of their books. For authors and illustrators, the awards represent the the highest honors in children’s literature and virtually guarantee the books will be in publication for many, many years. For librarians, it’s just one more reason to share the “best of the best” with library patrons. Here are the 2021 winners of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The 2021 medal winner, We Are Water Protectors, was illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom. The book was inspired by indigenous-led movements which have sounded an alarm about the need to protect our nation’s waters.
In contrast to the Caldecott, the John Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished American book for children. It typically, though not aways, goes to the author of a chapter book. If you love books based on folklore, you need to read When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller! Here’s teaser from the publisher’s description, “Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.”
The winner of the 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Award is Jacqueline Woodson for her book Before the Ever After. This novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when the father’s glory days as a professional football player have passed and he experiences the long-term physical effects of his career. Woodson has won numerous book awards including the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award and the 2014 National Book Award for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. She was the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
The Coretta Scott King Book Committee also awards an annual illustrator award and an award for “New Talent.”
You can view the full list of Youth Media Awards here, including the Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning readers, and the Schneider Family Book Award which honors authors and illustrators who present an artistic expression of a disability experience.