2015 Kids and Teen Book Awards Announced: The Oscars for Book Nerds!

2015 award winners children teens book long enough

Among we library-geek types, the annual American Library Association announcement of the best kids' and teen books of the year is a big deal. Like bigger than the Superbowl. And way bigger than the Oscars. Of course, librarians form the committees that give the award, so we're generally a bit biased about their qualifications to choose the winners and runners-up. 

The awards were announced Monday morning, and it was a banner year for diverse books, which were awarded major accolades in broad categories. It was also a remarkable year for graphic novels, which showed up in both of the two major award categories! Finally, poetry (including novels told in verse) made a huge showing. This is all very exciting because it means the awards are moving with the times, which makes them relevant and a great place to find awesome reads. 

I'm always interested to see if the books I loved match the winners. It's an ego thing, of course. Let's take a look!

The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature in 2014 goes to:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

I am so, so VERY EXCITED about this book being named the Newbery Medalist for 2015! Why? Because it's a book that kids actually like! It's written in some slamming fast verse, it's about basketball, and hip-hop, and family, and boys and girls ages 9 to 12 LOVE it! It's the perfect book for kids who love the read and the perfect books for kids who'd rather do ANYTHING OTHER THAN read! Here's the publisher's blurb:

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander (He Said, She Said 2013).

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

Here are the two runners-up, which received Newbery Honor awards:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

El Deafo by CeCe Bell

I blogged about both of these AMAZING, WONDERFUL, DIVERSE contributions to children's literature here. Brown Girl Dreaming won so many awards Monday morning (not to mention its National Book Award a few months ago), that you may not be able to see the cover for all the medals that will soon be attached to it! It's written in verse, just like The Crossover. And El Deafo is the first graphic novel (comic) to be recognized in the Newbery category, which is awesome! Both of these are appropriate for kids roughly ages nine to 12.

Moving on to my personal favorite award, the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: The mold was broken this year with a rare selection of SIX honor books (runners-up), one of which is a graphic novel for teens! This means that graphic art (or comics) is being taken seriously as an illustrative art form in children's literature. I say, about time.

The winner is:

The Adventures of Beekle: An Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat

This is another major award winner that is a huge hit with kids. My fourth grade daughter really loved it. Here's why the committee awarded Beekle this prestigious recognition:

In four delightful “visual chapters,” Beekle, an imaginary friend, undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Santat uses fine details, kaleidoscopic saturated colors, and exquisite curved and angular lines to masterfully convey the emotional essence of this special childhood relationship.
“Santat makes the unimaginable, imaginable,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Junko Yokota.

Above are the six Caldecott Honor winners. I blogged about three of them here, here, and here.

You can read more about the other titles, Viva Frida, This One Summer, and Sam and Dave Dig A Hole, here

My next favorite award is the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, which is the awarded to the finest non-fiction published in a calendar year. I LOVE LOVE LOVE children's non-fiction, which seems to get better and better in terms of availability and quality each year. This year's Sibert Medal goes to:

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

Yep, this one won two major awards! I blogged about it here. Don't miss it! The illustrations will blow you away!

Runners-up for the Sibert Medal are: 

I wrote about the last two pictured above, here. You can learn more about The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia and Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, here.

The Theodore Seuss Geisel Award, named for Dr. Seuss, is another medal I pay close attention to, because it's a wonderful place to find books you might not have otherwise heard about. It's given for the best beginning reader published in a calendar year. The winner for 2014 is: 

You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant, which I wrote about here. It's a wonderfully funny book all about perspective, which kids ages two to six will enjoy. My son, who is five, had me read it many, many times to him. 

The runners-up are:

Mr. Putter and Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard 

Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems.

Both of these easy reader series are among my favorites!

Finally, if you have a teen or you are one of those adults who read crossover teen lit (there are about a million!), you will want to know which books won recognition as great literature for young adults. The complete list is available here. This one won the most prestigious of the teen awards, the Michael Printz Medal for the most outstanding contribution to young adult literature: 

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This one has been in my to-read pile for about two months, and now I see I must move it up on my never-ending waiting list. I wrote about it here

Here are the runners-up for the Printz Award:

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

The Carnival of Bray by Jessie Ann Foley

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

You can learn why each of these titles was chosen for a Printz Honor medal, here

Later this week I'll write about awards for African-American, Latino, international, and Jewish picture books, as well as those that promote diverse peoples and families! Stay tuned and happy reading.

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Great Graphics for Kids: Part 3 -- 10 and Up

Today we're looking at graphic novels for tweens and teens ages 10 and up.  You can take a look at my recommendations for ages 4 to 7 here. Or, suggested graphics for 7 to 10 year olds here. Or click on the graphic above to see the entire list, for all ages, on Pinterest. (Don't worry, you don't have to have an account!)


Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale: Series of four books that introduce kids to various conflicts in American history with humor and adventure.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier: New release from the author of the beloved graphic novelsSmile and Drama! Perfect for ages 10 and up, especially for girls.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: Gorgeous, award winning novel in art form. Check out Wonderstruck, by the same author, too.

Rapunzel's Revenge by Dean Hale: Love this strong-girl fracture fairy tale! 

Coraline: The Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman: Adaption of the novel of the same name. Has received multiple starred reviews. Perfect for kids who like spooky fantasy.

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle: Adapted in comic form in celebration of the novel's 50th anniversary.

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson: Who doesn't love the Wimpy Kid focus on middle school social issues, with ninjas thrown in for self defense?

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney: Why is this the king of graphic/diary format novels? Kinney's crisp drawing style and his knack for understanding (and helping readers cringe/laugh at/identify with) the crucible that is middle school. Currently a series of 9, plus. 

The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley: Brand New Winter 2014! A well-reviewed middle school memoir.


Boxers & Saints Boxed Set by Gene Luen Yang: Stunning dichotomy in two tales of Chinese history. Multiple awards. 

March Book 1 by John Lewis: I cannot wait for Book Two! American history (Civil Rights Movement) in graphic form. Engaging, dramatic, emotional. 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: Award winning biographical graphic.