Awards Winning Children’s Books

Reading recommendations from Dr. Alice Mar of our sister practice, Farrell Pediatrics

Last January I shared a list of kid-approved books that have also won the coveted Newbery award for the most distinguished overall contribution in children’s literature. I thought I’d return to the treasure trove of past Newbery winners for a list of a few more fantastic books for kids. The Newbery award comes out in January, along with the other American Library Association Awards. The other most famous ALA award is the Caldecott for the most distinguished picture book, so I thought I’d share with you five previous Caldecott winners that our family has enjoyed.


Newbery Winners

The Girl Who Drank the Moon (2017 Medal Winner) by Kelly Barnhill

Part fantasy, part fairy tale, this book tells the story of a world where the people in the City of Sorrows live in fear of the evil witch in the forest who demands a newborn as a sacrifice every year. Unknown to them, the witch is actually a good witch who believes she is rescuing the babies and takes them to cities to be raised by loving parents. On the journey, the good witch feeds the babies starlight. One year, she accidentally feeds a baby moonlight, imbuing her with magical powers. The witch decides to raise the baby herself which sets in motion a series of events that bring together multiple magical creatures. Best for middle schoolers due to the themes and a more complex reading level.

Echo (2016 Honor Book) by Pam Munoz Ryan

This beautiful book weaves together three stories of three different children in difficult circumstances (a boy in Nazi Germany, an orphan boy in the Great Depression and a young migrant farmer’s daughter in WWII California). The children are linked by musical talent and a magical harmonica. There is a fairy tale element to this book as well, but the stories themselves are rooted in historical detail.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (2011 Honor Book) by Roman Philbrick

A twelve year old orphan runs away to find his older brother who has been sold into the Union Army during the Civil WAr. Along the way, he runs into thieves and spies and other colorful characters. Homer’s main survival skill is his ability to use his quick wit and tell “whoppers” to get out of trouble.

Princess Academy (2006 Honor Book) by Shannon Hale

I have to admit to never having read this book. However, my daughter and one of my sons loves it. They both highly recommend it and demanded that it be included.


Caldecott Winners

They All Saw a Cat (2017 Honor Book)  by Brendan Wenzel

In this genius book, a cat “walks through the world” as different creatures see it go by. Each illustration shows the cat as the creatures sees it. There are many levels on which this book can be read and enjoyed. You can just read it and look at the cats with a very young child. You can point out why the perspectives change (the bee sees with compound eyes, the bat “sees” with echolocation, the snake “sees” with heat sensors). Or you can talk about perspective and how we all see things differently with older kids.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee (2011 Medal Winner) by Erin Stead and Phillip Stead

This gentle and quiet book is a beautiful fable of friendship. A zookeeper spends at the zoo in a predictable routine. He does special things for each animal depending on what they need (plays chess with the elephant). One day he is sick and can’t go to work and it’s the turn of his animal friends to come and help him.

Interrupting Chicken (2011 Honor Book) by David Ezra Stein

Absolutely one of the most hilarious and fun books to read-aloud. Little red chicken wants a bedtime story from Papa.  As Papa tried to read classic stories, little chicken can’t help herself. Each time she finds a way to interrupt and insert herself into the story that Papa is trying to read.

King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub (1986 Honor Book) by Don Wood

A king refuses to leave his bathtub and attend to his royal duties. Everyone in the castle tires to convince him to get out but he won’t…until a small royal page figures out how to get him out. The illustrations are beautiful and detailed. But the silliness is really what will have your kids asking for it again and again.

Owen (1994 Honor Book) by Kevin Henkes

I am a big fan of all the mouse books by Kevin Henkes. They remind me somewhat of Beverly Cleary’s books. Henkes gets kids and kids problems and how kid sized problems can sometimes seem little to adults but are huge to kids. In this book, Owen has a blanket that he loves and carries with him everywhere. A well-meaning but misguided neighbor suggests to his parents that he needs to give that up before kindergarten. She suggests all kinds of remedies but in the end Owen’s Mom comes up with a solution that allows him to keep his Fuzzy with him even in school.