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Early Childhood Education: Newbery & Caldecott Medal Books

Guide to Early Childhood Resources

Caldecott Medal "Winners


image of the Caldecott Medal


The Randolph Caldecott Medal annually recognizes the preceding year's "most distinguished American picture book for children", beginning with 1937 publications. It is awarded to the illustrator by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).


Caldecott Winner 2022

Caldecott Winner 2022 - Watercress
Simply stunning. Andrea Wang and Jason Chin’s Watercress is
the thought-provoking, gorgeously illustrated story of a first-generation
girl coming to terms with, and ultimately celebrating, her Chinese heritage.
There is so much to glean from Watercress that you’ll want to read it over and over. 

Newberry Winner 2022

The Last Cuentista is a mesmerizing science fiction tale for the ages,
sprinkled with Mexican folklore. Petra Pena’s journey through space
and time is a stunning reminder of the power of stories, and how those
stories shape both our past and future. 

Caldecott 2020 Medal Winner

The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Kwame Alexander and published by Versify, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

2020 Honor Books

Bear Came Along, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, written by Richard T. Morris, and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

“Oh, what a ride!” After tumbling into a river, Bear is swept into an epic journey, collecting woodland companions along the way. The river comes to life with Pham’s energetic lines, a gradual increase of vivid color, and surprising page turns to form a rollicking adventure and bonding connections.

Double Bass Blues, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Andrea J. Loney, and published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House Children’s Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books.

Ignited by an electrifying snap of the string bass, Nic navigates between the symphony of two worlds: music and community. Syncopated rhythms, musical harmony and familial love are vibrantly expressed through riotous color, dynamic lines, and kinetic movement. This inventive composition visually illuminates the auditory experience that is the blues.

Going Down Home With Daddy, illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons, and published by Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

An African American family reunion gives a boy a chance to connect to his vibrant roots. 

Newbery Medal and Caldecott

picture of the Newbery Medal

The Newbery and the Caldecott awards are the most anticipated of the annual prizes given out by the American Library Association for young adult and children’s literature.

Basically the difference in the two awards is that one is for illustrations (Caldecott), while the other is for literature (Newbery). ... Created in 1922, the Newbery Medal is also awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year.

Newbery and Caldecott books are shelved in the Early Childhood Sections at Rowan-Cabarrus North and South Campus.

Newbery 2020 Medal Winners

2020 Honor Books

The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and published by Versify, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  • The Undefeated “is for us.” Written in sparse poetic verse, the contributions of African Americans are celebrated and explored. The reader is invited on a journey of dreaming, of persevering, and of bravery. The past intersects with the present, leaving readers forging their own paths of discovery. America, this is for you.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes, written by Christian McKay Heidicker, illustrated by Junyi Wu, and published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.

  • Seven foxes, in the dark and twisted Antler Wood, want to hear scary stories. And, they will. Imagine a character with gooey eyes. Imagine trying to slink away from the Golgathursh’s grin. And imagine Beatrix Potter as a villain. Adventure, survival, and humor all celebrate the importance of story …even scary ones.

Other Words for Home, written by Jasmine Warga, published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

  • This book follows Jude and her mother, both Muslim, who flee war-torn Syria for a new life in America. This novel in verse is an inspiring story of resilience. It explores themes of family, prejudice, and what home truly means in a timely and honest manner.

Genesis Begins Again, written by Alicia D. Williams, published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

  • This book tells the story of 13-year-old Genesis, struggling with colorism and self-loathing. Her dark skin is just one of the 96 things she does not like about herself. This powerful novel deals with family struggles and internalized racism. A hopeful ending will leave both Genesis and readers seeing the possibility of self-worth.

Why Should We Incorporate Newbery Books into a Curriculum

girl silhouette reading a book



"Reading is the most fundamental skill taught in school.  Research, however, shows that exposing students to outside literature is more likely to promote a love of reading that will last for a lifetime. Newbery Award books provide a variety of themes and thought-provoking topics appropriate for classroom use. Teachers assume the role of exposing students to quality literature to promote not only academic growth but also the desire to become a lifelong reader."

Ricksecker, R. E. (n.d.). Irresistable Children’s Literature: The Benefits of Integrating Newbery Award Books into the  Curriculum(Unpublished master's thesis). Liberty University.