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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Childhood favorites and Newberys of old

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

I'm going to try to cover one of my favorite books from childhood each month for awhile. The Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and other American Library Association prizes came out recently, and it got me thinking about some of the books I loved so much when I was a kid. Most of them are pretty standard, except that they are really, really old now.

They've been on my mind and I've made a list to write about. It's really stirring up memories of poking around in the kids' section in the library. And Walden Books at the mall, RIP. I'm a bit of a book hoarder, so I have a few beat-up old paperbooks from Scholastic book orders.

I've been thinking about some award-winners that I've read, a few as a kid and then more as a librarian. One of my goals for this year is to read a little children's literature, because it really can be amazing, but I've hardly read any since I graduated library school. Except for a few of the most popular YA series, just to avoid being completely out of the loop.

Anyway, some of my favorites...

Newbery Medal and Honor books

2000- Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

honor- Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm

1998- Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

honor- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

1995- Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

1994- The Giver by Lois Lowry

1993 honor- The Dark-thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural by Patricia McKissack

1990- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

1985- The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

1983 honor- The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

1981- Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

1974- The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

1972- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

1967- Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt

1961- The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

1959- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

1957- Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

1953 honor- Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

1942 honor- Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

1941 honor- The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

1940 honor- By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

1939 honor- Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater

1938 honor- On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Can you BELIEVE that Charlotte's Web didn't win that year? Sometimes the honor books are better. Also, how embarrassing for a self-professed Nerd and a Half to not have read one that I really liked in the last 20 years? I am so out-of-touch with the modern stuff.

Several of these I can't remember well at all. I don't remember what happens in many of them, but I remember holding the books and I remember the covers, and how much I loved them at the time. I know that I loved, loved, loved Up a Road Slowly, but I have only the vaguest recollection of the main character or any of the plot.

The top five books on this list were my favorites of all the Newbery books I've read, and I read them all when I was an undergrad. Bud, Not Buddy is a fantastic audio book too, by the way. It's narrated by Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince.

Number the Stars is so good, but I made the mistake of finishing it in my car in between classes, and I was absolutely bawling. But it's so good. Worth looking like I was having a breakdown in public.

The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword were like gateway drugs into fantasy for me. I was never into books with wizards or magic or swords or any of that stuff, but I loved these books so much. Both have a young woman as a protagonist. And a magic sword. I liked them so much that I looked for more by Robin McKinley. I liked Beauty: a Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast and Spindle's End, which are both re-tellings of fairy tales. They were not as memorable, but I remember that I liked them better than a few other fairy tale reworkings that I read at the time.

I've never made a list of favorite Newbery books, and I had no idea that I've liked so many of them. There are several others that I read and liked well enough. I'm way more motivated now to read a few kids' books this year.

Please leave a comment with your favorite Newbery titles. I love comparing notes, and I could put some on my to-read list.

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