ICYMI: 2023 Award Winners


list of award winning middle grade books from 2023

The new year is all about looking forward but in case you missed it, 2023 was loaded with middle grade books that inspired, challenged and delighted young readers. Today, let’s take a look at a few that won prestigious awards for their contributions to children’s literature.

Newbery Medal: Freewater, by Amina Luqman-Dawson

The Newbery Medal, one of the most esteemed awards in children’s literature, was awarded to this debut novel that captivates with its tale of escape and resilience, offering young readers a profound glimpse into the journey of two siblings who flee from the harsh realities of enslavement. This story of survival, adventure, friendship, and courage inspires and educates, serving as a reminder of the strength of the human spirit.



Schneider Family Book Award: Wildoak, by C.C. Harrington

This award celebrates books that express the disability experience with artistry and authenticity. Wild Oak weaves a tale of courage and friendship, highlighting the importance of understanding and inclusion. Harrington’s narrative skillfully brings to light the challenges and triumphs of living with a disability, making it a must-read.




Pura Belpré Award:  Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, illustrated by Rose Bousamra.

This award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library and honors Latino/Latina writers and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in outstanding works of literature for children and youth. Frizzy tells the story of Marlene, who struggles with embracing her curly hair amidst pressure to straighten it for her sister’s quinceañera. The narrative weaves themes of self-acceptance, cultural identity, and the importance of family, offering a powerful message about embracing one’s natural beauty and heritage.


Odyssey Award: Stuntboy, in the Meantime, by Jason Reynolds

The Odyssey Award for the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults recognized Stuntboy, in the Meantime, produced by Taryn Beato for Simon & Schuster Audio. Vibrant and engaging, this audiobook brings the Jason Reynold’s novel that blends humor, heart, and heroism to life.



The Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature: Maizy Chen’s Last Chance, by Lisa Yee

This award celebrates and recognizes books about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, focusing on literary and artistic merit. Maizy Chen’s Last Chance, the 2023 recipient, is a heartfelt middle-grade novel that explores family, identity, and the history of a Chinese American family through the eyes of Maizy Chen, who spends an unforgettable summer at her grandparents’ restaurant in a small town. (also a Newbery Honor Award recipient AND a National Book Award Finalist!)



Mildred L. Batchelder Award: Just a Girl: A True Story of World War II, by Lia Levi, translated by Sylvia Notini

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated into English was given to “Just a Girl: A True Story of World War II.” Originally published in Italian, this poignant novel offers a deeply moving and insightful glimpse into the life of a young Jewish girl living in Italy during World War II, highlighting the struggles, resilience, and hope amidst the backdrop of historical events.



Beth McMullen