2023 Newbery & Caldecott Awards

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This morning, the American Library Association Youth Media announced children’s book awards, including the 2023 Newbery and Caldecott awards and honors books. But, the ALA also gives many other awards, including Sydney Taylor, Coretta Scott King, and the Odyssey Award, some of which I’ve included below.

John Newbery Award 2023

First awarded in 1922 and named for a British bookseller, this is an annual book award that honors the most distinguished book for children.

The Newbery Award winner for 2023 is

Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson.
Told from many different, well-developed characters’ points of view, this is a historical fiction middle-grade novel about a thriving swamp community of Freewater filled with formerly enslaved people and some freeborn children, loosely based on the history of maroon communities in the South. There are many intertwined story threads including escaped children, Freewater residents, and the plantation owner’s daughter that weave together for a hopeful ending. At 416 pages, this book will only appeal to readers who enjoy reading epic historical stories.

The Newbery Honor titles are

Ivaliz Explains It All by Andrea Beatriz Arango, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez
The Last Mamaker by Christina Soontornvat
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee

Randolph Caldecott Award

Started in 1938 and is awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

The 2023 Caldecott Award winner is

Hot Dog, illustrated and written by Doug Salati.
A dog is overwhelmed by the crowds, the noise, and the heat of the city. Lucky for him, his owner takes him to the beach. Relief at last!

The Caldecott Honor books are

Ain’t Burned All the Bright illustrated by Jason Griffin and written by Jason Reynolds
Berry Song illustrated and written by Michaela Goade
Choosing Brave illustrated by Janelle Washington, and written by Angela Joy
Knight Owl illustrated and written by Christopher Denise

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Theodore Seuss Geisel Award

This is the award for distinguished beginning reader books.

The winner is

I Did It! by Michale Emberley.
A cute little creature feels frustrated learning to ride a bike and says, “I can’t do it” until– “I can do it… I am doing it… I did it!”

The Geisel honor books are:

Fish and Wave by Sergio Ruzzier
Gigi and Ojiji by Melissa Iwai
Owl and Penguin by Vikram Madan
A Seed Grows by Antoinette Portis

Sibert Book Award and Honor

This award goes to books for children written and illustrated to present, organize, and interpret documentable, factual material.

The Sibert medal winner is

Seen and Unseen by Elizabeth Partridge, illustrated by Lauren Tamaki.
See the photographs by Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams along with first-hand accounts that depect the history and horror of the Japanese American internment camps during World War II. I haven’t read or even seen this book for ages ten and up, but it looks powerful.

The Sibert honors go to

Choosing Brave by Angela Joy, illustrated by Janelle Washington
A Seed Grows by Antoinette Portis,
Sweet Justice by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Susan Gal

Coretta Scott King and John Steptoe Award

This award goes to books that promote the understanding and appreciation of all people.

The illustrator award goes to

Standing in the Need of Prayer illustrated by Frank Morrison and written by Carol Boston Weatherford.
Heartbreaking and hopeful, see how faith and prayer help Black folks persevere throughout historical times of slavery, rebellion, marches, and more…all the while “standing in need of prayer.” Morrison is one of my favorite illustrators and he brilliantly captures the emotional weight of a African American history with a faith-filled life. A powerful, moving spiritual cry.

The illustrator honors go to:

Me and the Boss illustrated by April Harrison and written by Michelle Edwards
Swim Team illustrated and written by Johnnie Christmas
Victory. Stand! illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile and written by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes

Coretta Scott King Author award goes to

Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson.

The author honors go to

Star Child by Ibi Zobo
The Talk by Alicia B. Williams (illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu)
Victory. Stand! by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes (illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile)

Odyssey Award

The Odyssey award goes to the best audiobook production.

The Odyssey children’s book award goes to

Stuntboy in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds, narrated by Guy Lockard, Nile Bullock, Angel Pean, and cast.
Portico wants to be a superhero and he dubs himself stuntboy– doing cool things to help other people in his community and other superheroes like his best friend Zola. But his parents are separating and fighting all the time. That makes Portico anxious. Plus, his neighbor kid Herbert is the worst — he’s mean and annoying. Relatable, funny, and adventurous, this is an amazing book that tackles big issues.

The Odyssey Honors go to

Three Billy Goat Gruff by Mac Barnett, narrated by Mac Barnett (ages 4 – 8)
The Demon in the Woods by Leigh Bardugo, narrated by Ben Barnes and cast (ages 13+)
Inheritance a Visual Poem written by Elizavedo Acevado (ages 13+)
The First Helping (Lunch Lady) by Jarrett J Krosoczka, narrated by Kate Flannery and cast (ages 6 – 9)

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Pura Belpré Award

The Belpré Youth Illustration Award  honoring Latinx writers and illustrators goes to

Where Wonder Grows illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, illustrated by Xelena Gonzalez.
The girls grandmother takes the to a special garden to look at the rocks, crystals, seashells, and meteorites. She reminds them to look with an open mind and see their journey and strength.

The Belpré Youth Author Award  honoring Latinx writers and illustrators goes to

Frizzy by Claribel A Ortega, illustrated by Rose Bousamra.
In a family with good hair and bad hair, Marlene’s mom and relatives judge her hair as bad. Marlene dreads Sundays when she’s forced to spend all day at the salon getting her hair straightened to look presentable in her mom’s eyes. On a weekend sleepover, her tía shows Marlene how to properly take care of her hair and use the right products to use so she can wear her hair naturally curly. It’s a fantastic journey of empowerment and self-love!

Sydney Taylor Awards

This award goes to outstanding children’s books that authentically portray the Jewish experience.

The 2023 picture book winner is

The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Susan Gal.
Yaffa loved her family and her town in Poland but when the Nazis invaded, her family escaped with nothing except a few photos. Later in her life, she was asked to build an exhibit for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. She used her own photographs as inspiration and found other photos from her Jewish neighbors who lived in Eishyshok, too. The photographs and subsequent display show the opposite of death; they show life, family, love, and community.

The middle grade winner is

Aviva vs. the Dybbuk by Mari Lowe.
In their Orthodox Jewish community, Aviva and her shut-in mom are struggling five years after the death of her father. Her mom rarely gets out of bed and there’s a mischievous dybbuk (spirit) causing trouble –for which Aviva must always clean up. After a fight with her former friend at school, the girls’ punishment is to work together to create a fun Mitzvah activity for mothers and daughters. Beautifully written, this is a heartfelt story about grief and healing.

The Sydney Taylor Picture Book and Middle Grade Silver Medalist winners are

Big Dreams, Small Fish by Paula Cohen
The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda by Shoshana Nambi, illustrated by Moran Yogev 
Sitting Shiva by Erin Silver, illustrated by Michelle Theodore

Honey and Me by Meira Drazin
Black Bird, Blue Road by Sofiya Pasternack
Ellen Outside the Lines by A. J. Sass

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

The award promotes Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and is awarded based on literary and artistic merit.

The picture book winner is

From the Tops of the Trees by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Rachel Wada.
Kalia lives in a refugee camp in Thaland with thousands of other Hmong families who fled war in Laos during the Vietnam War. From a treetop, her father shows her that there is more in the world than the camp –and assures Kalia that one day she will get to see it.

The children’s literature winner is

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee.
Maizy’s mom moves them to a small Minnesota town to help her grandfather. She works in their restaurant and learn about people, including her own family and their present and history. I’m looking forward to reading this.

The picture book honor title is Nana, Nenek & Nina written and illustrated by Liza Ferneyhough. The children’s literature honor winner is Troublemaker by John Cho.

These are only some of the awards. FOR ALL THE ALA AWARDS, visit their website.


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  1. I absolutely love your lists but especially appreciate this concise and easy-to-read list of the ALA award winners. The ALA list is difficult to parse quickly as everything is condensed into paragraphs but this is as bright and fun as it is informative. Thank you!