It's been my personal goal for years to read all the Newbery Award winning books. With the centennial celebration happening in 2022, I finally hunkered down and tackled the list. 100 years, 100 books chosen as outstanding contributions to American children's literature, the bulk read between October 2020-December 2021, and I completed most of it. Why "most" and not "all" is a matter of what I was able to read before the centennial award ceremony and what I could get from outside the system when unavailable here.
I'm going to be talking about my favorite book from each decade, but bear in mind this is one opinion of one reader. There will also be books mentioned that are currently unavailable in our library system, but they are available through interlibrary loan (ILL). Contact your local branch to learn more about this amazing loaning process! Now on to the list:
1922-1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1931)
A short novel with charming illustrations, poems, and tales with a Buddhist slant.
1932-1941: Dobry (1935)
A story of a Bulgarian youth coming of age in his humble village. Available through ILL.
Honorable Mention: Call it Courage (1941)
1942-1951: Adam of the Road (1943)
A medieval youth traverses the land to find his stolen dog and reunite with his missing father. Minstrelsy is involved.
Honorable Mentions: Johnny Tremain (1944), The Twenty-One Balloons (1948), The Door in the Wall (1950)
1952-1961: The Wheel on the School (1955)
A group of Dutch schoolchildren work together to revive the town's tradition of installing wheels on their roofs, hoping the storks will nest and bring them good luck.
Honorable Mentions: ...And Now Miguel (1954, available through ILL); Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (1956); The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1959)
1962-1971: A Wrinkle in Time (1963)
Meg, her intelligent younger brother, and a friend from school are whisked away in the search for her missing father in this science fiction classic.
Honorable Mention: Summer of the Swans (1971)
1972-1981: The Westing Game (1979)
A group of unrelated tennants are the selected heirs to Mr. Westing's lavish fortune. The first to solve the mystery left behind by this eccentric man will inherit everything.
Honorable Mentions: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1972); Julie of the Wolves (1973); Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry (1977) ; Jacob Have I Loved (1981)
1982-1991: Number the Stars (1990)
A re-read from my school days, a Danish girl in WWII gathers up the courage to help her friend flee to Sweden.
Honorable Mentions: Dicey's Song (1983); Dear Mr. Henshaw (1984); The Whipping Boy (1987)
1992-2001: Holes (1999)
A young man is sent to a juvenile delinquent summer camp for a crime he didn't commit. Little does he know that his family history and the history of this camp are intertwined.
Honorable Mentions: Walk Two Moons (1995); The View from Saturday (1997); Bud, Not Buddy (2000); A Year Down Yonder (2001)
2002-2011: The Graveyard Book (2009)
A boy raised by the ghosts of his local graveyard must remain undetected lest the man who slayed his family finds him.
Honorable Mentions: A Single Shard (2002); Crispin: The Cross of Lead (2003); Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (2008); When You Reach Me (2010)
2012-2021: When You Trap A Tiger (2021)
A young girl, whose family has moved to live with her ailing grandmother, receives nightly stories from a mystical tiger.
Honorable Mentions: The One and Only Ivan (2013); The Crossover (2015); Hello, Universe (2018); Merci Suárez Changes Gears (2019)
Would I recommend reading all the Newbery books?
That honestly depends. Because the collection of books spans the course of a century, social attitudes and writing styles reflect the years these books were written. There were some books I stopped reading because I couldn't engage as a reader, or I wasn't enjoying them. On the other hand, I discovered some hidden gems I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't stuck to the challenge, which is why I had the honorable mentions. There's a wide spread of books that hold importance in American children's literature, with many of them receiving the Newbery Award. They're by no means the only books a child is meant to read, but there are some great suggestions depending on what they want to read.
And with that, thank YOU for reading!