It’s mid January, which means that the ALA Youth Media Awards are coming in 3…2….1!  On January 23rd, 2012 at 7:45 CT there will be a live webcast at to announce 18 awards. Right now, the judges are tucked away in dark rooms.  They’ve, likely, searched the rooms for bugs and tucked towels under the doors.  They’re receiving prepackaged meals through a small hole in the wall. Security allows no one in. Important decisions must be made and no one may enter or leave until it is done! And if you do somehow make it through, Roger Sutton will be deployed to give you am amnesia-inducing pill/injection. This is true fact.

Okay, maybe that’s not quite what happens, but one thing is for certain.  Secrecy abounds. And when the awards are announced, some authors’ careers will be pushed into overdrive, and librarians, teachers and parents will have a new list of the very best in children’s and YA literature. It’s something the entire literary community looks forward to.

The ALA Youth Media Awards that are being announced on the 23rd consist of the following.  (Click through to see more about the awards and past winners.)

Alex Awards include 10 titles written for adults that have appeal to young adults. The Andrew Carnegie Medal honors excellence in children’s video production. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards honor African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books that focus on the African American experience. Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement honors an African American author, illustrator or author/author illustrator for a body of his or her work. Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrators body of work that has made a lasting contribution to U.S. literature over a period of years.  Margaret A. Edwards Award honors an author and his or her specific work for a lasting contribution to YA literature. May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture goes to a lecturer(historian, children’s writer, critic) of any country on a paper of considerable significance to children’s literature. The Michael L. Printz Award honors excellence in YA lit. The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is presented to a publisher for the most outstanding book originally published in a country other than the United States in a language other than English and subsequently translated into English for publication in the U.S. The Odyssey Award honors the producer of the best audiobook for children and young adults in English. The Pura Belpré Awards honors a latino/latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays the Latino cultural experience. Randolph Caldecott Medal honors the illustrator of the year’s most distinguished picture book of the year, Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is given to honor an author, illustrator or photographer for the best informational book of the previous year. The Schneider Family Book Award is given for a work that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for children and YA’s. The Stonewall Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award honors works of merit relating to the GLBT experience. The Theodore Seuss Geisel Award honors author or illustrator who produced an outstanding book for early readers. The William C. Morris Award honors a first time book for a debut author for teens. And the  YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction for young adults.

One of the most highly anticipated awards is the well-renowned John Newbery medal, which will go to the author of the year’s most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. They land in the middle grade age range and all are worth reading! Previous Medal winners include: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool(2011), When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead(2010), The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2009), Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (2008), The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron(2007), Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins(2006), Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata(2005), The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo(2004), Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi(2003), A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park(2002), A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck(2001), Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. From the Mixed-Up Filed of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg won the medal in 1968! To see the entire list of Newbery Medal and honor books from 1922-Present click here.


So, what extraordinary children’s books have you read this past year, and who do you think the Newbery Medal will go to?


Erin E. Moulton is the author of Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey(Philomel 2011), and Tracing Stars, forthcoming from Philomel/Penguin in 2012. Erin is co-founder of the Kinship Writers Association and is currently the YA librarian at the Derry Public Library.