Reading award-winning books with your kids is a wonderful way to experience some of the best stories that children’s literature has to offer the reader.
From original artwork and creative storylines to relatable themes and important topics, these award-winning books have been selected because they have made significant contributions to the world of children’s (and teen’s) literature.
Plus, you’ll find a free printable of the entire list of award-winning books for children.
This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.
Children’s Books Awards
Every year the excitement builds as librarians, teachers, and fans of literature eagerly wait to hear which titles have been recognized as award-winning books for kids.
Books written for children and teens can be honored with a wide variety of book awards.
Some of the most prestigious awards include the following:
The Newberry Award (established 1922) is a prestigious literary award presented to one children’s book each year by the American Library Association (ALA).
This winner is the book that made the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award typically goes to a work of fiction that exhibits literary excellence and originality while contributing to the advancement of children’s literature.
The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the ALA and given to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The Michael L. Printz Award is an annual literary honor presented by the American Library Association (ALA) to recognize excellence in young adult literature.
The award is given to a book that exemplifies literary excellence and outstanding contributions to young adult literature. The Printz Award acknowledges works that demonstrate significant literary merit and appeal to a teen audience.
Coretta Scott King Book Awards are annual honors presented by the American Library Association (ALA) to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults.
These awards recognize contributions that promote understanding and appreciation of the African American experience.
If you are interested in hearing about more book awards for kids and young adults, then listen you’ll enjoy my detailed YouTube video look at the ALA awards:
In the list, below you will find many of the winners of the Newberry and Caldecott Awards, though the other awards will be mentioned if they won both.
As with any booklist for children and teens, be sure to research the content of a book before deciding if it is a good fit for your children. I like to use Common Sense Media and Goodreads for opinions and reviews.
Early Elementary Award Winning Books: Grades K-3
These books are mainly Caldecott Winners, though a few Newberry Awards were given at these grade levels.
Matt De la Peña
Newberry Winner 2016, Caldecott Honor, 2016
CJ and his grandmother ride the bus home from church every week. This week CJ has a lot of questions for his grandma as he questions why his life is different from the lives of his friends. Grandma answers patiently and helps him see the beauty in his daily routine.
Newberry Winner, 1986
This historical fiction book is set in the late 1800’s USA. Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton answers Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother so she comes to live with him and his two children on the prairie. Anna and Caleb, the two children, wonder if their new mom will be a good fit for them.
Newberry Winner, 1982; Caldecott Honor, 1982
This lovely collection of poems for children brings William Blake’s imaginary Inn and its unusual guests to life.
illustrated by Jason Chin, written by Andrea Wang
Caldecott Winner, Newberry Honor, and APALA Award Winner, 2022
Join a young Chinese girl and her immigrant parents as she learns to appreciate the fresh food her family has foraged, even along the roadside. She learns to appreciate her roots while making memories in their new home.
Caldecott Winner, 2023
This little hot dog is done with summer in the city so he protests in the middle of the street. His owner takes him for a much-needed breath of fresh air at the beach.
illustrated by Michaela Goade, written by Carole Lindstrom
Caldecott Winner, 2021
Inspired by the Indigenous-led movements across America, this book encourages readers to protect our most precious resource, water. Join the young water protector who takes a stand against the black snake threatening to destroy the Earth.
illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander
Caldecott Winner and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, 2020
This poem is a love letter to black life in America. It is filled with references to accomplishments in the past while also drawing attention to important people and events in the present.
Caldecott Winner, 2019
Join the lighthouse keeper and his family as he details everything he does at the lighthouse. Follow his records all year long as the seasons come and go at the little lighthouse.
Wolf in the Snow
Caldecott Winner, 2018
A girl and a wolf cub are lost in a snowstorm. Join them in this sweet story of friendship and trust.
Radiant Child: The Story
of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
Caldecott Winner and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner, 2017
This is the story of well-known collage-style artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat. This book takes the reader back to his childhood when he saw art everywhere around him in the vibrant life in New York City.
Finding Winnie: The True Story
of the World’s Most Famous Bear
illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick
Caldecott Winner, 2016
In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian, rescued a baby bear that he named Winnie. He was on his way to tend horses in WW1 so he took the bear with him. After quite a journey, Winnie’s final stop was at a zoo where she befriended a boy named Christopher Robin.
The Adventures of Beekle:
The Unimaginary Friend
written and illustrated by Dan Santat
Caldecott Winner, 2015
When an imaginary friend is born, they have to wait for a child to choose them, but one imaginary friend gets tired of waiting. Instead, he leaves the island and sets off to find his perfect match.
Caldecott Winner and Sibert Honor, 2014
It is the summer of 1869, and America has a brand-new transcontinental railroad. Join the families and crews who are traveling together from the plains to the mountains to the oceans.
Caldecott Winner, 2013
A tiny fish arrives in a round blue topper hat and trouble might be following close behind. Travel with the tiny fish and see what happens.
Caldecott Winner, 2012
Daisy’s toy has been broken by a bigger dog. Now, in this nearly wordless picture book, readers will experience the highs and lows that a special toy can bring.
illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by Philip C. Stead
Caldecott Winner, 2011
Amos McGee spends time with all of his friends each day at the zoo. When he stays home to rest during a sick day, his zoo friends decide to return the favor.
Caldecott Winner, 2010
In this wordless adaptation of Aesop’s fable, this unlikely pair of animals learn the importance of kindness. These beautiful images make this a truly special retelling.
illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson
Caldecott Winner, 2009
At nighttime, you can find things that are both comforting and intriguing. In this bedtime board book, readers will travel through the house, up to the sky, and back again as they find wonder in the world.
Caldecott Winner, 2008
Check out the mysteries of the deep in this beautiful picture book. A little boy goes to the beach to collect flotsam–anything floating that has been washed ashore. When he discovers an underwater camera, he isn’t quite prepared for the amazing images inside.
illustrated by Chris Raschka and written by Norton Juster
Caldecott Winner, 2006
Nanna and Poppy’s house has a wonderful window where one little girl ca see everything that happens near it and beyond it. This book is a wonderful look at childhood.
Caldecott Winner, 2005
It’s Kitten’s first full mom but she isn’t sure what to make of the moon. Is it a bowl of milk in the sky and is there any way she can drink it? Join this brave kitten on her quest to find answers.
Caldecott Winner, 2004
Based on the true story of French aerialist Philippe Petit, this picture book will take you on the high adventure of walking the wire between the two towers of the World Trade Center. This daring feat was accomplished in 1974 and the story will amaze you!
Late Elementary Award Winning Books: Grades 4-6
Most of the books below are Newberry Winners though you will find a few Caldecott Winners as well.
Caldecott Winner, 2008
Hugo lives in the Paris train station and he must keep is life a secret. But everything is about to be put in jeopardy when his world collides with a bookish girl and the old man at the toy booth. This creative mystery book will entrance readers of all ages.
Newberry Winner, 2021
Lily and her family move in with Lily’s sick grandmother and a magical tiger appears right away. The tiger makes a deal with Lily — if she can return when her grandmother stole then they will reward her grandmother with health. Now Lily will need to find all the courage she can to face a tiger when she discovers the truth.
Newberry Winner, 2014
A tragic accident with a vacuum cleaner grants one average squirrel, Ulysses, with superhero powers. He develops a friendship with Flora Belle Buckman and together they will face the adventures ahead.
Newberry Winner, 2013
Ivan the gorilla has spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall. He barely remembers his previous life in the jungle, but soon a baby elephant will open his eyes to the reality of his world and the need for change.
Newberry Winner, 2009
Bod is a normal boy other than the fact that he lives in a graveyard and is being raised by ghosts. There are plenty of adventures available in a graveyard for a little boy, but he also has to protect himself from the people who killed his family.
Laura Amy Schlitz
Newberry Winner, 2008
Be prepared to meet maidens, monks, and millers’ sons in this medieval tale. You’ll find twenty-two portraits to enjoy in this unique book.
Newberry Winner, 2007
Now that her guardian is returning to France, Lucky is certain that she will be abandoned and lose her beloved dog. It’s time for her to reach out to her “high power,” just like they taught at the twelve-stop program she eavesdrops on, because she is going to need a bit of help.
Newberry Award, 2004
Meet a music-loving mouse, a rat who lives in darkness, and a serving girl with a wish. These three characters embark on a journey that will bring them together as destiny unveils itself.
Newberry Winner, 2002
Tree-ear is determined to prove himself to the master potter. He will do whatever it takes even if he must travel alone to the royal court to present his master’s work.
Newberry Winner, 2001
Mary Alice spends her summers with her Grandma in a small town in Illinois where her Grandma knows how to shake things up. Now that Mary Alice is fifteen and is facing a whole year with Grandma, she has no idea what to expect!
Newberry and Coretta Scott King Award Winner, 2000
It’s 1936 and Bud is a motherless boy on the run in search of his father. He has a suitcase full of special items and a few clues to help guide his way, but there are plenty of obstacles ahead for him as he embarks on this journey of discovery.
Newberry Winner, 1999
Stanley Yelnats is living under a curse caused by his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather. Now he has been unfairly sent to a boys’ detention center where he has to dig a hole every day. Soon it becomes clear that the warden is searching for something, but what is it and what is the connection to Stanley?
Newberry Award, 1997
How did Mrs. Olinski select Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian for her sixth-grade Academic Bowl team? And why do they make such a good team? No one quite knows the answers but they watch as this team rises to the occasion and even beats the 7th and 8th grade teams! Turns out this team is learning more than just academics.
Newberry Winner, 1996
A girl known only as Brat has no family, no home, and no future until she meets Jane the Midwife and becomes her apprentice. As she helps the short-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat—who renames herself Alyce—gains knowledge, confidence, and the courage to want something in life for the first time.
Newberry Award, 1995
Salamanca Tree Hiddle is proud of the “Indian-ness in her blood.” As she travels with her grandparents, she tells them stories about a girl named Phoebe. As Sal tells her entertaining stories, her own story begins to unfold and it is clear that her only wish is to find her missing mother.
Newberry Winner, 1993
Summer’s Aunt May died six years ago and life for Summer and her Uncle Ob hasn’t been the same. Neither of them can shake the sadness they feel. Summer wants a sign from May to help them know what to do next, and when she finally receives one, she and Uncle Ob discover that they can move on while still missing May.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Newberry Award, 1992
Marty Preston discovers a young beagle in the hills near his house and falls in love with it. Unfortunately, the beagle belongs to Judd Travers who abuses his dogs. When the dog runs away to live with Marty, it causes problems between Marty’s family and Judd Travers and now they have to find a way to solve them and protect the dog, Shiloh.
Newberry Award, 1991
A freak accident made Jeffry Lionel “Maniac” Magee an orphan and now he lives with his Aunt and Uncle. After living in this situation for eight years, Maniac Magee decides to run — not just run away, but run. And that is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins.
Newberry Award, 1990
Follow the Danish Resistance as they smuggle almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark across the sea to Sweden through the eyes of a ten-year-old child.
Newberry Award, 1989
These creative poems bring the wonderful signs of nature to life — from the drone of the honeybee to the pulse of the cicada. Readers will also enjoy the vibrant drawings included with the poems.
Newberry Award, 1984
Leigh Botts’ parents have separated and he moves to a new town with his mother. He is struggling with the changes and, as the result of a class assignment, begins a pen pal relationship with his favorite author.
E. L. Konigsburg
Newberry Winner, 1968
Claudia has planned her runaway very carefully. She will live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and she will take her brother with her, mostly because he has money. At the museum, she and Jamie get caught up in solving the mystery behind a special statue and Claudia will not go home until she gets answers.
Middle School Award Winning Books: Grades 7-9
Once again, please be sure to check the content of books before giving them to your children. As you reach older grade levels, books often contain topics that can be challenging for sensitive students.
Newberry Award and Coretta Scott King Winner, 2023
Under the cover of night, twelve-year-old Homer flees Southerland Plantation with his little sister Ada, unwillingly leaving their beloved mother behind. Much as he adores her and fears for her life, Homer knows there’s no turning back, not with the overseer on their trail. Through tangled vines, secret doorways, and over a sky bridge, the two find a secret community called Freewater, deep in the swamp.
Newberry Winner and Coretta Scott King Author Award, 2020
Seventh grader Jordan Banks wants nothing more than to go to an art school, but instead, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school. Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his grade and now he finds himself navigating two worlds: the upscale world of his classmates and the neighborhood where he lives.
Newberry Winner, 2019
Merci Suárez knew sixth grade would be tough, but as a scholarship student in a private school full of weathly families, things were tougher than she imagined. It only gets worse when she becomes the target of another student’s jealousy. In addition, things are also getting worse at home with her grandfather and no one will tell her what is going on.
Erin Entrada Kelly
Newberry Award Winner, 2018
The lives of four children are about to weave together in unexpected ways in this story told from all four different points of view. None of these children are friends until a prank turns into a disaster that leads them to help one another in this surprising tale of friendship.
Newberry Winner, 2017
Enter this magical world where a kind witch named Xan rescues a baby every year and feeds her starlight to give her special powers. However, one year, she accidentally feeds the baby moonlight, giving her extraordinary abilities. As Luna grows up, she discovers her powers and embarks on a thrilling adventure that explores courage, friendship, and the magic within.
Newberry and Coretta Scott King Award Winner, 2015
Twin brothers, Josh and Jordan Bell, love playing basketball. As they navigate the challenges of adolescence, their bond is tested both on and off the court. With engaging poetry and dynamic characters, this book is a slam dunk for middle schoolers who enjoy sports and family dramas.
Newberry and Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction Winner, 2021
Join Jack as he spends his summer in the small town of Norvelt. Jack gets caught up in mysterious deaths, historical tales, and hilarious misadventures, all while trying to stay out of trouble. You’ll find plenty of humor and history in this memorable read for middle schoolers.
Moon over Manifest
Newberry Winner, 2011
This award-winning book is set during the Great Depression when a girl named Abilene uncovers secrets about her father’s past. Through a series of mysterious letters and historical tales, Abilene learns about friendship, community, and the power of storytelling.
When You Reach Me
Newberry Winner, 2010
Miranda, a middle schooler in 1979 New York City receives mysterious notes that seem to predict the future. She quickly becomes entangled in a puzzle that revolves around friendship, time travel, and a tragic incident. As she tries to solve the puzzle, she discovers the interconnectedness of events and the power of kindness.
Lynne Rae Perkins
Newberry Award Winner, 2006
The book follows Debbie, Hector, and their friends as they navigate the ups and downs of adolescence during a hot summer. Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view and includes their thoughts and experiences. This book captures the essence of middle school friendships and the unique moments that make up our everyday lives.
Newberry Winner, 2005
This is a heartfelt novel that follows the close bond between two Japanese-American sisters, Katie and Lynn, as they face the challenges of growing up in the 1950s. Set against a backdrop of cultural and racial struggles, the story beautifully explores themes of family, resilience, and finding beauty in the face of adversity.
Newberry Medal Winner, 2003
This is a gripping historical adventure set in medieval England, where a young boy named Crispin discovers dark secrets about his past after being accused of a crime. As Crispin embarks on a perilous journey to uncover the truth, the novel skillfully intertwines elements of mystery, suspense, and historical authenticity.
Newberry Winner, 1998
This book is a poignant novel-in-verse that tells the story of Billie Jo Kelby, a young girl coming of age during the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. Through Billie Jo’s lyrical and evocative narration, the novel explores themes of loss, resilience, and hope as she grapples with the harsh realities of her environment and the impact of tragedy on her family.
Newberry Winner, 1994
The Giver is a thought-provoking dystopian novel set in a seemingly perfect society where emotions are suppressed, and memories are controlled. As Jonas, a young boy chosen for a unique role, uncovers the dark truths behind the community’s facade, he grapples with the consequences of knowledge and the pursuit of true individuality.
Newberry Winner, 1979
The Westing Game is a mystery novel about a group of people brought together to solve the puzzle of millionaire Samuel Westing’s death. The sixteen heirs are paired up and given clues to unravel the mystery, with a grand prize at stake. You’ll find plenty of clever twists and quirky characters in this middle school favorite as you try to solve the puzzle alongside the characters.
Donna Barba Higuera
Newberry Winner, 2022
Petra Peña has the power to bring stories to life. When her beloved abuelita is kidnapped by El Raton, a sinister being trying to erase stories, Petra sets out on a daring adventure to save her. She encounters magical creatures and faces challenges that test her bravery as she uses her storytelling gift to combat darkness.
High School Award Winning Books: Grade 10-12
Books for teenagers can include mature topics at times, so be sure to do your research about the following award-winning books for teens.
Printz Medal Winner, 2022
This book is a riveting thriller that follows Daunis Fontaine, a biracial and unenrolled tribal member, as she becomes entangled in an investigation involving drug trafficking and murder in her Ojibwe community. She agrees to go undercover for the FBI and is soon concerned with how things are being done.
Printz Medal Winner, 2021
This autobiographical memoir delves into the author’s experiences as an Iranian refugee. A young refugee tells his classmates the tales of his family’s escape because his mom became a Christian. The creative storytelling weaves Persian folklore and ancient history into his own family’s story.
Printz Medal Winner, 2019
Xiomara Batista, a Dominican-American teenager, feels unheard in her neighborhood but is finding her voice through poetry. Xiomara knows that it is best to keep her poetry to herself, espcially because of her mom’s involvment in church. When she is invited to join a slam poetry club, she desperately wants to but isn’t sure how it will work.
Printz Medal Winner, 2018
Marin leaves home so she can deal with her grief, the loss of her mom, and complexities of her past. Now she is on her own, thousands of miles away from the California coast and she allows a friend to visit. Now Marin will be forced to face so many of the things she has run away from.
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
Printz Award Winner and Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, 2017
This powerful graphic novel is the conclusion of Congressman John Lewis’s experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.
Printz Award Winner, 2015
This beautifully written novel explores the complex dynamics of sibling relationships through the perspectives of twins Noah and Jude. Noah and Jude are inseperable despite some of their differences. Noah is quiet, likes to draw, and is love with the boy next door while Jude wears red-lipstick and talks constantly. Years later they are barely speaking, but they each have their side of the story to tell.
Printz Award Winner, 2013
In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, death seems eminent for Shorty. As he waits in the darkness, he hears a voice from the past reach out. It is the voice of the slave and revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture. Now the two are united, but is it in darkness or in hope?
Printz Award Winner, 2016
This mesmerizing novel blends magical realism with a mysterious small-town setting. When Rosa goes missing, Finn knows she was kidnapped but he can’t remember the face of the man who took her.
Printz Award Winner, 2014
This captivating novel spans different time periods as seven stories all take place on the remote Scandinavian island. What binds these stories together and what secrets lurk on the island?
John Corey Whaley
Printz Award Winner, 2012
It is the summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school and he is forced to question everything he things he knows about life in his dull Arkansas town. The most difficult thing that has happened is that his gifted brother suddenly disappears. Meanwhile, a young missionary is having a crisis of faith in Africa, and while it is miles away, these stories are woven together in surprising ways.
Printz Award Winner, 2012
Find yourself immersed in a dystopian world where America’s Gulf Coast region is flooded. Nailer, a teenage boy, scavenges copper wiring for a living. One day he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane and must decided if he should strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor.
Printz Award Winner, 2010
Cameron is a 16-year-old boy who just wants to make it through high school but he is sick and is going to die. Strangely enough, hope arrives in the form of a strange hallucination and Cam sets off across the USA to find what really matters.
Printz Award, 2009
Taylor Markham is 17 but was abandoned by her mother when she was only 11 years old. Now her past has caught up to her but she doesn’t have a lot of time to figure it out. Now the adult closest to her has disappeared and a boy from her past is back in town. There are plenty of twists and turns at Taylor tries to work out how everything is connected.
Printz Award, 2008
Henry Worsley is obsessed with Ernest Shackleton, the Arctic explorer from the nineteenth-century. Worsley feels a strange connection to Shackleton and as a result, sets out on his own quest to walk across Antarctica alone.
Gene Luen Yang
Printz Award, 2007
A thought-provoking graphic novel that intricately weaves together three interconnected stories exploring cultural identity, stereotypes, and the challenges of fitting in.
Printz Award, 2006
Teenager Miles Halter is tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what he calls the “Great Perhaps.” He will meet Alaska Young at boarding school and things won’t be the same.
Printz Award, 2005
Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins. Shortly after Daisy arrives, her aunt leaves on business soon. London is attachedk the next day and the power fails. The farm where she lives turns into an isolated place, much like a kind of Eden, for Daisy and her cousins
Printz Award, 2004
Bob is a sixteen year old teenage boy and he just learned that he is going to be a father. Suddenly all of his priorities begin to change as he is faced with the realities of his situation. This is an honest look at the reality of teen pregnancy from the point of view of the teen boy.
Printz Award, 2003
Jacob Todd is seventeen year old and has decided to head to Amsterdam to honor his grandfather who died during World War II. Nothing goes as planned for Jacob and instead of a brief visit to the grave, he meets someone who teaches him more about his grandfather.
Printz Award, 2002
Young Ju emigrated from South Korea to the United States with her family. She always imagined that America would be a dreamland, but it is quite the opposite. There are so many language and cultural barriers that it is hard for Ju and her entire family. Everything is falling part but a cataclysmic event has the potential to change that.
Printz Award, 2001
The Watson family moves to Stoneygate, an old coal-mining town, to care for Kit’s recently widowed grandfather. When Kit meets John Askew he joins him in playing a game called Death. The boys go into the mines to find the childhood ghosts of their long-gone ancestors.
Walter Dean Myers
Printz Award, 2000
A powerful novel-in-verse that delves into the criminal justice system through the eyes of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy on trial for his alleged involvement in a robbery-turned-murder. The book is written as a screenplay by Steve as he captures his experiences with the legal system and reflects on the choices he made.
Additional Resources For All Ages
- The Very Very Far North Homeschool Study and Book Review - February 27, 2024
- A Night Divided Review and Homeschool Study Ideas - February 24, 2024
- Engaging Curiosity with Microscope Science in Your Homeschool - February 14, 2024