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Newberry Award Book - Roll of Thunder

Page history last edited by Donna 9 years, 5 months ago




What Makes a Good Book?


In 1977, Mildred Taylor won the Newbery Medal, the highest award given to a children's book,  for her Roll of Thunder. This book also won recognition as a Jane Addams Peace Association as an Honor Book, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book and as a selection on the National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies.  Although not a contemporary novel, Roll of Thunder is still noted for its "literary quality" and is part of many Language Arts curriculum. 


Note: Although Taylor and her family moved from their home in Mississippi to Toledo, Ohio when she was an infant, she remained close to her southern roots and made many trips with her parents back to the South.  Family was important to Taylor and she was especially was especially close to her father.


"Taylor gives her father much of the credit for her literary success, both because of his storytelling legacy and his refusal to be cowed by racism and segregation. The author accepted her Newbery medal for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry on behalf of her father, remarking that "without his teachings, without his words, my words would not have been." Taylor adds that she hopes her books about the Logan family "will one day be instrumental in teaching children of all colors the tremendous influence that Cassie's generation ... had in bringing about the great Civil Rights.  "Taylor, Mildred D. (1943)."  UXL Junior DISCovering Authors. Detroit: UXL, 2003. Junior Reference Collection. )

Important: To access the full-text of this article, log into the Junior Reference Collection database from the J.P. Case Library.  (Password is flem8851) Search for "Mildred Taylor."


Book Awards 


 Newbery & Caldecott Medals 


The Caldecott Medal was started in 1938 and is given "to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children."


The Newbery Medal is even older.  It was started in 1922 to recognize the authors of outstanding books written especially for children and is the world's first literary award given to the author of children's literature.

Photo Credit: "Newbery Medal." Wikipedia.


The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children "to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." The first medal was awarded in 1922 for The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon.  The recipient of the 2011 Newbery Medal is Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. 


Complete list of Newbery Medal winners by decade 


Who Is Eligible to Win the Award


The Newbery Award is not based upon a book's sales or popularity but rather is goiven in recognition of literary merit.  The award is given to the "author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children published by an American publisher in the United States in English during the preceding year." The winner must be an American citizens and the book itself must be an "original work."


Read award's "terms"  from the American Library Association website and clarify the following terms of the award:


  • "most distinguished contribution to American literatur"
  • "distinguished"
  • "for children"
  • "original work"


Criteria for Selection


The book itself is judged on these six criteria ( from the ALA Terms and Criteria of the John Newbery Medal)

  • Interpretation of the theme or concept
  • Presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization
  • Development of a plot
  • Delineation of characters
  • Delineation of a setting
  • Appropriateness of style
Based upon what you know about literature and literary terms, rewrite these six criteria in "student friendly" terms.



The Process

Each year, fifteen members of the American Library Association who form the Newbery Award Committee - consisting of public and school librarians -- reads and evaluates hundreds of titles "nominated for their excellence in the field of children's literature" that were published during the year.    Each committee member formally nominates three titles and a "short list" is developed from these nominations.  Members read all books on the "shortlist" and base their decision of these titles using the award's criteria.



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