Little Bits of History

The Oscar of the Children’s Library

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 27, 2010

The Newbery Medal

June 27, 1922: The Newbery Medal, awarded for excellence in children’s literature, is presented for the first time to Hendrik Willem van Loon for The Story of Mankind. Van Loon, a Dutch-American journalist and history professor, wrote the book for his grandchildren. It is a history of Western civilization. There are runners-up each year as well as the Newbery winner and they receive the Newbery Honor, both awards named for John Newbery, an 18th century publisher of juvenile books.

The American Library Association conceived of the award which is given to the most distinguished American children’s book published in the preceding season. The Newbery Medal is the first children’s book award in the world. It, along with the Caldecott Medal – for best artist of an illustrated book – are the top prizes for children’s literature. The bronze medals given to the winners of these prestigious awards were both designed by Rene Paul Chambellan.

The criteria for winner of the Newbery are 1) technical adeptness and excellence of presentation for the desired audience; and 2) the contribution to literature, as well as others. It is not a popularity contest. In fact, both Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White and Old Yeller by Fred Gipson were runners-up rather than winners. White’s book lost to Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan  Clark and Gipson’s lost to Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen.

There are several other awards given yearly for children’s literature. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors lifetime achievements rather than a year’s authorship. The Andrew Carnegie Medal rewards exceptional videography. The Batchelder Award honors books translated into English for American readers. And beginning in 2006, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given to an author or illustrator who contributes to the beginning reader’s quest for entertainment.

“We read to train the mind, to fill the mind, to rest the mind, to recreate the mind, or to escape the mind.” – Holbrook Jackson

“You can never read bad literature too little, nor good literature too much.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism, what will be grasped at once.” – Cyril Connolly

Also on this day, in 1966 Dark Shadows premiered.

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