Youth Media Awards Celebration

Like many events, the American Library Association’s Annual Conference was in person this year, after going virtual for the past two years. This event is huge with librarians coming from all over the country and from all different types of libraries. Meetings are held, there is a huge exhibit of vendors and publishers, and there are a plethora of educational sessions where librarians learn about new trends and best practices. The highlights of the conference, at least for some people, are the awards ceremonies for the “big” Youth Media Awards, opens a new window. By this I mean the Coretta Scott King, Printz, Caldecott, Legacy, and Newbery awards. For children’s and school librarians, educators, booksellers, people in the book industry, as well as authors and illustrators, it’s a Big Deal! This is like the Academy Awards for the Kid Lit world! Actually, there are three main events. 

“The Michael L. Printz Award , opens a new windowis an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.” There is a reception for the medal winner and those who are awarded an “honor”, with the winners giving talks. The Coretta Scott King Award winners are celebrated at a breakfast event that also includes speeches by the winners and runners up. The Coretta Scott King Awards, opens a new window are given to “outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.”

Finally, on the Sunday night of the conference there is a large banquet where the winners of the Children’s Literature Legacy Award, opens a new window, the Randolph Caldecott Medal, opens a new window, and the John Newbery Medal are lauded. The Legacy Award is given to honor an author or illustrator’s body of work and contribution to the canon of children’s literature and that “have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children's lives and experiences.” The Caldecott is given to the best illustrated book. The Newbery is given to “author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” Everyone dresses up and there is champagne at the winner’s tables. It is very glamorous, at least by librarian standards. In 2018, when the Annual Conference was held in New Orleans, I had a chance to attend. I wore my fanciest dress and high heels. It was very exciting, moving, and inspiring to hear the winner’s speeches in person. Everyone had a beautiful program at their place setting illustrated by Caldecott winner. 

I’m actually writing this on Sunday night, but I’m sad to say from my home and not  from a hotel grand ballroom in Washington D.C. at the conference. I've heard that the speeches will be shown on the Association for Library Service for Children's website. I'll post them in a future blog when they become available.

The 2022 awards are special this year not just for a return to in person celebrations, but because the original and oldest award, the John Newbery Medal, is 100 years old. Over the next few months I will be posting about the history of the Newbery. I will also highlight many of my favorite winners, share some Newbery trivia, and discuss some of the drama and controversies around the award.

But first, the 2022 award winners! Stay tuned for my next blog posts about the winners. To read a complete list of all of the awards given, the winners, and the honor books, I suggest going directly to the source on ALA's website., opens a new window Your branch library will also have a list of this year's winners and honors, as well as past winners and honors.