Front Row Seat at the ALA Youth Media Awards

No, none of us were actually in the room in Philadelphia where the awards were announced. But anyone can get a front-row seat through the miracle of cyber technology. Sometimes the Redeemed Reader team gathers to react to the announcements on Slack, but this year Janie was the only one available. Also, in the past, we’ve made predictions about the winners (chiefly the Newbery, the big kahuna), but couldn’t get that together this year either. For a good reason–we’re planning some big rollouts right here and it’s taking a lot of time!

But we’d be remiss not to report on some of the more outstanding awards (and note on how many of them we’ve read). So here’s the lowdown, direct from Philly, with links to the titles we’ve already reviewed while reading ahead for you:

The Sidney Taylor Award reflects the Jewish experience. We’ve reviewed both winners in the middle-grade and YA categories:

The Snyder Famly Book Award is given for authentic expression of the disability experience. The winner:

The Coretta Scott King award recognizes African American authors and illustrators. This year’s honored illustrator is

This year’s honored author is

The Virginia Hamilton Award honors lifetime achievement for an African American author. This year’s winner is Mildred D. Taylor, author of the series that began way back in the 1970s with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Ms. Taylor wraps up the series with an adult novel, All the Days Past, All the Days to Come. Betsy has read it–watch for her review soon.

And, the John Steptoe award for new talent was a novel that I read and liked and will review next week: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams.

The Prinz Award is given for excellence in Young-Adult literature. Teen reading is often “problematic” these days, but we’re happy to see an honor nod to Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes. This is a gripping, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting memoir by one of our favorite authors. Watch for a Janie-Betsy discussion of it soon.

The YALSA (a YA division) award for excellence in nonfiction went to Free Lunch, which is now on reserve at our library. One of the honor books was Torpedoed: the True Story of the WWII Sinking of “The Children’s Ship.”

The Odyssey Award is given for audio books. Song for a Whale and We’re Not from Here were honored in this category; check out the audio versions if you can get hold of them (especially We’re not From Here, one of my favorite titles from last year!). The Odyssey Award winner is

  • Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosczka. (Hard to imagine an audio version of a graphic novel, but would be worth checking out for older teens.)

The Pura Bel Pre Award goes to authors and illustrators of the Latino experience.

  • This year’s Bel Pre picture book: Dancing Hands (which is now on reserve at our local library, so watch for a review).
  • This year’s Bel Pre children’s novel: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe. (The audio version is very well done, too.)

The Robert F. Sibert Medal honors nonfiction for middle grades. The winner (Fry Bread: a Native American Family Story) is on reserve at the library so hopefully we’ll get to it soon. two of the honor books are The Promise of Change (which we starred) and Ordinary Hazards. (Again, watch for our thoughts on that one.)

The Theodore Geisl Award goes to outstanding books for beginning readers. We don’t focus on this age group as much as we’d like to, but hope to report on the winning title soon: Stop! Bot!

The two biggest awards are always given at the very last. First, the Caldecott, given for excellence in illustration. The honor books are

  • Bear Came Along
  • Double Bass Blues
  • Going Down Home with Daddy
  • And the winner of the 2020 Caldecott Award: The Undefeated

Finally, the 2020 Newbery honor books, soon to be graced with a silver medal, are

And–drum roll, please–the 2020 winner of the world’s oldest and foremost award for excellence in children’s literature:

This is the first graphic novel to win the gold, though others have scored honor status. It’s an excellent choice: New Kid offers both diversity and universality, humor and wisdom. If one important goal of children’s literature is to expand parochial worlds, this gets the job done. Congrats to Jerry Craft, and well done, committee!

Click the links for further reviews or discussions, and do check back in the following weeks for reviews of award books that we missed.

Travel the World With Us!

Stuck at home? Enjoy our FREE Christian read-along adventure for all ages with lots of book ideas, discussion questions, and more!

Reading Ahead for You

Reviews and Resources Weekly in Your Inbox
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.


Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

1 Comment

  1. Alison Fairfield on February 15, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    In principle I am less than thrilled about even a well done graphic novel winning a Newbery. Reading (or even listening to) a regular print story builds the imagination of the reader immeasurably. With graphic novels there’s no need to imagine what characters look like or the various settings or the subtleties of interactions which require description. It’s just plot, plot, plot as far as the eye can see, literally. Ugh.

Leave a Comment