The 2021 Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, and Coretta Scott King Award Winners

The prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards have long served as a guide to those seeking some of the best original and creative content published for young readers. These prize winners are the books that shape childhoods, give new perspectives to budding readers, and start a lifelong love of stories and the written word.  This year’s winner are:

The John Newbery Medal 

With its long history, the Newbery is the most recognizable children’s book award given for “the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.”

The 2021 Newbery Medal Winner — When You Trap a Tiger, by Tae Keller 

When Lily moves with her family to Washington to be with her ailing grandmother, or Halmoni, the last thing she expects is to encounter a magical tiger she’s heard about in Halmoni’s Korean folktales. She soon learns that the tiger is the key to uncovering Halmoni’s past and possibly saving her life. When You Trap a Tiger is a powerful story about one of our greatest powers — storytelling and the effects those stories have on who we become.

Newbery Honor Books: Fighting Words, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; A Wish in the Dark, by Christina Soontornvat; We Dream of Space, by Erin Entrada Kelly; All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, by Christina Soontornvat; and BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal 

Awarded to the artist that illustrated the “most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year.”

The 2021 Caldecott Medal Winner — We Are Water Protectors, illustrated by Michaela Goade, written by Carole Lindstrom 

In an appropriately forceful and inspirational call to action, Carole Lindstrom’s lyrical picture book about defending Earth’s natural resources is a must-read regardless of age. Inspired by Indigenous-led movements across the United States, and particularly the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Lindstrom’s powerful words are matched with Michaela Goade’s stunning illustrations to create a reading experience that will resonate for years to come.

Caldecott Honor Books: Me & Mama, illustrated and written by Cozbi A. Cabrera; The Cat Man of Aleppo, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, written by Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham; A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, illustrated by Noa Denmon, written by Zetta Elliott; and Outside In, illustrated by Cindy Derby, written by Deborah Underwood.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards 

Given to exceptional African American authors and illustrators of children and YA literature that “demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.”

The 2021 Author Award Winner — Before the Ever After, by Jacqueline Woodson 

ZJ’s dad has always been a hero. As a beloved pro football star, he has been a source of pride and inspiration to his neighborhood and adoring fans — but now he is having trouble remembering it all. As old head injuries start to change the man, and father he has always known, ZJ grapples to hold on to the past and what it means for the future. A heartfelt story of loss and longing, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson’s captivating novel-in-verse explores the consequences and true cost of injury on Black bodies.

Author Honor Books: King and the Dragonflies, by Kacen Callender; Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box, by Evette Dionne; and All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, by Mildred D. Taylor.

The 2021 Illustrator Award Winner — RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Carole Boston Weatherford 

A tribute fit for the Queen of Soul, the story of Aretha Franklin’s remarkable life is shared in a unique and gorgeously impressionable way that only the award-winning duo of Carole Boston Weatherford and Frank Morrison could create. As inspirational as it is educational, this Coretta Scott King award-winning book is the perfect way to honor an unmatched legend in American culture — all with a little (or a lot of) R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Illustrator Honor Books: Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, written by Samara Cole Doyon; Me & Mama, illustrated and written by Cozbi A. Cabrera; Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera, written by Suzanne Slade.

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