annual award for writing a children's book published in the United States
The John Newbery Medal, frequently shortened to the Newbery, is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), to the author of "the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children". The Newbery and the Caldecott Medal are considered the two most prestigious awards for children's literature in the United States. Books selected are widely carried by bookstores and libraries, the authors are interviewed on television, and master's and doctoral theses are written on them.
Named for John Newbery, an 18th-century English publisher of juvenile books, the winner of the Newbery is selected at the ALA's Midwinter Conference by a fifteen-person committee. The Newbery was proposed by Frederic G. Melcher in 1921, making it the first children's book award in the world.: 1 The physical bronze medal was designed by Rene Paul Chambellan and is given to the winning author at the next ALA annual conference. Since its founding there have been several changes to the composition of the selection committee, while the physical medal remains the same.
Besides the Newbery Medal, the committee awards a variable number of citations to leading contenders, called Newbery Honors or Newbery Honor Books; until 1971, these books were called runners-up. As few as zero and as many as eight have been named, but from 1938 the number of Honors or runners-up has been one to five. To be eligible, a book must be written by a United States citizen or resident and must be published first or simultaneously in the United States in English during the preceding year. Six authors have won two Newbery Medals each, several have won both a Medal and Honor, while a larger number of authors have won multiple Honors, with Laura Ingalls Wilder having won five Honors without ever winning the Medal.
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