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A Mighty Girl Salutes the 2019 American Library Association Award Winners!

The Mighty Girl winners of this year's Newbery, Caldecott, and other top children's literary awards.

The beginning of the year isn't just awards season for movies: it's also the time when many literary organizations name their picks for the best books of the previous year! The American Library Association has a selection of prestigious awards that recognize children's and young adult titles — and in 2019, many excellent Mighty Girl titles are among the award winners.

In this blog post, we're celebrating the Mighty Girl books from 2018 that received awards and honors in this week's announcement. We're sure that you'll see some titles you loved — and find empowering new titles to add to your and your Mighty Girl's must-read lists! To discover even more girl-empowering titles for children and teens that were published last year, check out our picks of the year's best books in A Mighty Girl's 2018 Books of the Year.

To find ALA award winners from previous years, visit our Books Collection and use the filter bar on the left-hand menu to select the award.

Newbery Medal

Named after eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery, the Newbery Medal was the first children's book award in the world. When the award was created, its purpose was "to encourage original creative work in the field of books for children [and] to emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels." Today, it recognizes the most distinguished children's book of the previous year, and receiving the Newbery Medal or a Newbery Honor is a tremendous honor for any author.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Written by: Meg Medina
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

2019 Newbery Medal Winner

Merci is full of confidence and drive, but sixth grade will test even her. As a scholarship student at her Florida private school, she's always felt different from her peers, and this year, her required community service makes Merci the target of the school queen bee's jealousy. Meanwhile, her grandfather Lolo has been acting strangely, from forgetting things to getting angry over nothing, and no one will tell her what's going on. Fortunately, her take-charge personality helps her overcome all the bumps in the road! This coming-of-age tale stays light, while still tackling tough issues facing many middle-grade kids.

The Night Diary

The Night Diary

Written by: Veera Hiranandani
Recommended Age: 10 and up

2019 Newbery Honor Winner

Twelve-year-old Nisha is half-Muslim, half-Hindu, and in 1947, when Pakistan and India have just separated, she feels like she doesn't know where she belongs. After losing her mother as a baby, she's desperate to cling to the familiar. But when her father decides it's too dangerous to stay in Pakistan, Nisha and her family set out as refugees in search of a new home, first by train and then on foot. It's long and dangerous travel, but Nisha still believes that the future will be bright. In a series of letters to her mother, Nisha relates her journey and explores the search for home, identity, and hope.

Caldecott Medal

Artwork and illustrations are a central part of the magic of many picture books. The Caldecott Medal, named for nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott, recognizes the artist of the previous year's most distinguished picture book for children.

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Alma and How She Got Her Name

Written by: Juana Martinez-Neal
Illustrated by: Juana Martinez-Neal
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

2019 Caldecott Honor Winner

Alma's full name is far too long for someone so small: Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela "never fits"! So she asks her father: how did she get her name? It turns out that every part of her very long name is part of a story: Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and more. The only name she doesn't hear is Alma — because, her father says, "You will make your own story." This gentle, sweet story celebrates sharing family history and is sure to have kids asking about their own.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

Written by: Grace Lin
Illustrated by: Grace Lin
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

2019 Caldecott Honor Winner

Little Star and her Mama, both wearing black pajamas adorned with yellow stars, have baked an enormous mooncake together — and Little Star can't wait to eat it! But Mama says that the mooncake has to cool, and hangs it up in the sky. Little Star has trouble being patient though, so every night, she sneaks downstairs and has just a little nibble... Clever storytelling and glorious illustrations make this original modern myth from beloved author / illustrator Grace Lin a warm and funny imagining of the origin of the phases of the moon.

Thank You, Omu!

Thank You, Omu!

Written by: Oge Mora
Illustrated by: Oge Mora
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

2019 Caldecott Honor Winner

Omu's stew is so delicious that everyone in the neighborhood is drawn to her house by its scent — and Omu dishes out a portion to anyone who asks. But when evening comes, she realizes that she's accidentally given away all of her dinner! She doesn't go hungry for long, however; a knock at the door reveals the whole community, who have brought a potluck feast to thank Omu for her generosity. Author-illustrator Oge Mora notes that "Omu" (pronounced AH-moo) means "queen" in her parents' language, Igbo, but that it meant "Grandma" to her growing up — one of many charming touches in this story of a sharing community.

Sibert Informational Book Medal

Named in honor of Robert F. Sibert, the long-time President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., the Sibert Medal recognizes the authors and illustrators of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States (in English) the previous year.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science

Written by: Joyce Sidman
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

2019 Sibert Medal Winner

When Maria Merian began studying the world around her, bugs were considered to be "beasts of the devil." Everyone knew they spontaneously generated from mud; why would anyone want to study them? Merian's curiosity drove her to examine even these creatures, and through her notes and her art, she successfully documented something miraculous: the metamorphosis of the butterfly. This stunning biography, which is beautifully accented by full-color original artwork from Merian herself, provides an exciting look at one of the first female entomologists and her lifetime of exploration.

Sydney Taylor Book Award

The Sydney Taylor Book Award was created to encourage the publication of books for children and teen that represented the Jewish experience. It is named after Sydney Taylor, author of the All-of-a-Kind Family series.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Written by: Jonathan Auxier
Recommended Age: 9 and up

2019 Sydney Taylor Gold Medal, Older Readers Category

11-year-old Nan Sparrow is a 'climbing boy,' an orphan owned by a chimney sweep to do the dirty, dangerous work of cleaning flues in Victorian London. But, Nan isn't a boy and she's quite possibly the best chimney climber who ever lived, beating the odds again and again... until the day she's trapped in a chimney fire. When she wakes up safe in an attic, she discovers that she was saved by a mysterious creature — a golem — made from ash and coal. Together, the two outcasts will need to evade Nan's abusive boss and figure out how to create a better life in a world that's quick to label differences as monstrous. Told by master storyteller Jonathan Auxier, this powerful and heartwarming tale explores the search for home and family, in whatever form they take.

What the Night Sings

What the Night Sings

Written by: Vesper Stamper
Recommended Age: 14 and up

2019 Sydney Taylor Gold Medal, Teen Readers Category

14-year-old Gerta Richter was a talented singer with a promising future — until June 1944, when Nazi soldiers burst into her home and she found out that her Papa had spent years concealing their Jewish heritage. She survived to liberation, but her father didn't... and without her music, and unsure of her place in the world, Gerta's not sure she'll find a way to move on. In a displaced persons camp, though, she meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor. As she grows closer to Lev, Gerta begins to accept her new Jewish identity, and even sees the possibility of music entering her life again. This powerful novel explores the challenges that faced survivors of the Holocaust, who had to try to rebuild lives that could never be the same.

Printz Award

The Printz Award, which is named after a school librarian who was a devoted member of the Young Adult Library Services Association, recognizes literary excellence in young adult literature.

The Poet X

The Poet X

Written by: Elizabeth Acevedo
Recommended Age: 14 and up

2019 Michael L. Printz Award Winner

15-year-old Xiomara Batista feels voiceless in her largely Dominican community in Harlem: since she developed curves, she's relied on her fierce exterior and a willingness to throw a punch to keep herself safe. But she pours all of her frustration and insecurity — as well as her conflicts with her strict, religious mother — onto the pages of a notebook. When Xiomara is invited to join her school's slam poetry club, however, she's faced with a choice: leave her poems unspoken or raise her voice, no matter what people think. This powerful novel in verse, which is the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, offers a thoughtful look at identity, family, and the power of words through the eyes of a teen girl.

A Heart in a Body in the World

A Heart in a Body in the World

Written by: Deb Caletti
Recommended Age: 14 and up

2019 Michael L. Printz Honor Winner

Annabelle is haunted by a crime that she feels responsible for, so she does the only thing she can think of: run. She decides to run from Seattle to Washington, DC — running 16 hours a day for five months in an effort to avoid the PTSD she faces because of the person she thinks of as The Taker. But when her brother and his friends appoint themselves as her publicity team, Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist, struggling to accept the support being offered by strangers in a world where a seemingly kind person can be a monster in disguise. This powerful story builds as Annabelle crosses the country, and as more of her past is revealed, author Deb Caletti explores what it's like to be a woman in today's world, the impact of violence, and the power of taking action.

Geisel Award

Named for world-renowned children's author Theodore Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, the Geisel Award honors authors and illustrators whose books engage children in reading, and is given to distinguished books for beginning readers published in the US in English during the previous year.

Tiger vs. Nightmare

Tiger vs. Nightmare

Written by: Emily Tetri
Illustrated by: Emily Tetri
Recommended Age: 5 - 9

2019 Geisel Honor Winner

Tiger and the Monster under her bed are best friends, so Monster would never scare Tiger — what kind of best friend does that? Since Monster has to scare somebody, Monster comes up with a clever solution and scares away all of Tiger's bad dreams. But then comes a nightmare that's so big, so mean, and so scary that even Monster can't fight it alone. Two best friends working together, though, will be just the trick! This delightful graphic novel for young readers celebrates unlikely friendships and the support they give when dealing with tough emotions.

King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth

King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth

Written by: Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by: Nancy Meyers
Recommended Age: 6 - 9

2019 Geisel Honor Winner

Kayla is super excited when she loses a tooth — but now her tooth is nowhere to be found! She's already torn the house apart looking for it, so she knows it's not inside the tooth fairy pillow, her backpack, or the car. King's sharp nose, on the other hand, has picked up on something: Mason's hand smell's just like the tooth fairy pillow... Can the pair solve the mystery together? A mystery with just-tough-enough clues and a loving friendship between a girl and her dog make this entry in the series perfect for newly independent readers. introduces newly independent readers to mysteries, gathering facts, and analyzing clues. For the first book in the series, check out King & Kayla and the Secret Code.

Asian/Pacific American Award For Literature

The Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature recognizes literary work for all ages about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage.

Front Desk

Front Desk

Written by: Kelly Yang
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

2019 Asian/Pacific American Award (Children's Literature)

10-year-old Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. For one, she lives in a motel, not a big house, and while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, Mia manages the front desk. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants — and if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. And third, she wants to be a writer, even though her mom thinks English being her second language means Mia should stick to math. With enough courage, determination, and kindness, however, Mia might be able to help out her family and the other immigrants and pursue her dreams. Based on author Kelly Yang's own experiences in the 1980s and 1990s, this engaging story offers young readers an eye-opening look at the immigrant experience and the power of one girl to make a difference.

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards honor outstanding African American authors and illustrators whose books for children and young adults celebrate African American culture and universal human values.

The Parker Inheritance

The Parker Inheritance

Written by: Varian Johnson
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

2019 Coretta Scott King Author Honor

12-year-old Candice is still reeling from her parents' divorce when she finds a letter in the attic of her grandmother Abigail's old house. The letter describes a mysterious treasure, and begs Abigail to find it. With the help of the quiet boy across the street, Candice decides to decipher the puzzle, and it leads them into some difficult territory, including ugly truths about the town's past and secrets about their own families. But it also leads them towards forgotten heroes and a love that defied its prejudiced world. Kids will thrill to each of Candice and Brandon's discoveries, and ponder how the weight of racism and prejudice resonates into the present, as they eagerly turn the pages of this mystery.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

Recommended Age: 5 - 9

2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor

When Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden joined NASA, they were hired as "human computers" — their mathematical genius was put to use calculating launch trajectories for America's first trips to space. They overcame both racism and sexism, carved out careers in science, and participated in some of NASA's greatest triumphs. Fans of the Hidden Figures movie will be excited to share this picture book adaptation of the story of these groundbreaking women mathematicians with younger readers!

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop

The Sanitation Strike of 1968

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop

The Sanitation Strike of 1968

Written by: Alice Faye Duncan
Illustrated by: R. Gregory Christie
Recommended Age: 9 - 12

2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor

In 1968, after two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment, their colleagues throughout Memphis went on strike. Their two-month protest drew so much attention that Dr. Martin Luther King came to help... only to be assassinated in his hotel after giving his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" sermon. Through the eyes of a fictional girl (inspired by a real child's experience in the strike), author Alice Faye Duncan captures a key moment in both the labor and civil rights movements. Written in emotional free verse, this picture book for older readers provides an accessible introduction to a challenging and heartbreaking moment in American history.

Let the Children March

Let the Children March

Written by: Monica Clark-Robinson
Illustrated by: Frank Morrison
Recommended Age: 5 - 9

2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor

In Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, thousands of children joined the ranks of civil rights protestors in the Children's Crusade. One fictional girl reveals how many restrictions were placed on African Americans: everything from water fountains to playgrounds were off limits. She remembers the furious white onlookers and police officers who met their protest with violence and hate. Despite it all, though, the children stood together: "Our march made the difference," she proclaims proudly. This vivid telling of an important moment in Civil Rights history reminds kids that they, too, can make a difference.

Pura Belpré Award

Named after the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library, the Pura Belpré Award is presented to Latinx writers and illustrators whose books for children and teens affirm and celebrate Latino culture and experience.

The Poet X

The Poet X

Written by: Elizabeth Acevedo
Recommended Age: 14 and up

2019 Pura Belpré Award Author Winner

15-year-old Xiomara Batista feels voiceless in her largely Dominican community in Harlem: since she developed curves, she's relied on her fierce exterior and a willingness to throw a punch to keep herself safe. But she pours all of her frustration and insecurity — as well as her conflicts with her strict, religious mother — onto the pages of a notebook. When Xiomara is invited to join her school's slam poetry club, however, she's faced with a choice: leave her poems unspoken or raise her voice, no matter what people think. This powerful novel in verse, which is the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, offers a thoughtful look at identity, family, and the power of words through the eyes of a teen girl.

Dreamers

Dreamers

Written by: Yuyi Morales
Illustrated by: Yuyi Morales
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

2019 Pura Belpré Award Illustrator Winner

In this gorgeously illustrated picture book, based loosely on the author's experience of moving from Xalapa, Mexico with her American husband and their infant son to San Francisco in 1994, a woman travels with her son to the United States. There, she discovers an oasis of hope: the public library. Book by book, she untangles the language of this strange new land, and learns to make a home within it, observing that at the library: “We learned to read,/ to speak,/ to write,/ and/ to make/ our voices heard.” Five-time Pura Belpré Award winner Yuyi Morales uses poetic language and elegant illustrations to capture both an immigration journey and the importance of libraries as a welcoming home for new members of a community.

Islandborn

Islandborn

Written by: Junot Díaz
Illustrated by: Leo Espinosa
Recommended Age: 5 - 8

2019 Pura Belpré Award Illustrator Honor

Lola's class is full of kids from all over the world, so when her teacher asks them to draw pictures of where they're from, most students are excited... but Lola feels left out. She's from The Island (which adult readers will recognize as the Dominican Republic) but her family left when she was a baby, and she doesn't remember it. So she sets out to learn more about The Island, asking family, friends, and neighbors. The picture she gets is complex — it includes beauties and joys, as well as heartbreak and fears — but the most important thing Lola learns is that a family's shared story is an important part of every member, even those who don't remember it for themselves.

Schneider Family Book Award

The Schneider Family Book Award honors the authors and illustrators of books that share the disability experience with children and young adults.

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship

Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship

Illustrated by: Scott Magoon
Recommended Age: 5 - 9

2019 Schneider Family Book Award

All of Rescue's family are seeing eye dogs, but his trainer thinks he's better suited to become a service dog – and Rescue's worried he's not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose leg has just been amputated who is struggling to adjust to her new life. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And, when Jessica's other leg has to be amputated too, they have to start all over again. It turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time! This unique and thoughtful picture book about acquired disability, service dogs, and the power of hope also includes an introduction to the work of dogs trained by the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS).

Stonewall Book Awards

The Stonewall Book Awards was the first award for LGBTQ books for all ages. The Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Awards focus on books for children and teens relating to the LGBTQ experience.

Hurricane Child

Hurricane Child

Written by: Kheryn Callender
Recommended Age: 10 - 13

2019 Stonewall Book Award Winner (Children's & Young Adult Literature)

12-year-old Caroline was born in a hurricane, so she's told she's unlucky. That seems all too true: she's bullied for her dark skin in her school on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, her mother abandoned the family, and a spirit only she can see follows her wherever she goes. Then a new girl arrives from Barbados, and soon Kalinda becomes Caroline's only friend — and secret crush. With Kalinda by her side, Caroline hopes to find her missing mother, dismiss the spirit that follows her, and perhaps understand herself. An endearing protagonist and a vibrant Caribbean setting are high notes in this story about creating your own narrative.

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World

Written by: Ashley Herring Blake
Recommended Age: 9 - 13

2019 Stonewall Book Honor Winner (Children's & Young Adult Literature)

12-year-old middle child Ivy is used to being ignored, but when a tornado destroys her family's house, things get worse. Now, all five people in her family are crammed into a tiny hotel room... and Ivy can't find her journal, where she keeps drawings of girls holding hands. After the way her older sister reacted when her friend came out, Ivy's even more worried about her growing feelings for a female classmate, and when her drawings start showing up in her locker with notes encouraging her to speak up about her identity, Ivy will have to decide if she feels ready to show the world the real her. Sensitive and powerful, this book will speak to all young readers who are struggling to figure out where they belong.

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