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58 Noteworthy Newbery Medal Kids Books

Updated Apr. 24, 2019

As one of the two most prestigious awards given for children's literature in the United States, the John Newbery Medal is given to the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." (Newbery Medal Home Page) By way of that introduction this list of books is surely one that cannot be passed by. These books will inspire and enlighten young minds. Our favorites are here and we hope you will enjoy discovering your own favorites as well.

Top 10 Newbery Books

The Graveyard Book book
#1
The Graveyard Book
Written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

It takes a graveyard to raise a child. Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts, with a guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man, a gateway to the abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, he will be in danger from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family.

The Tale of Despereaux book
#2
The Tale of Despereaux
Written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

"The Tale of Despereaux" is a well-loved favorite, and for good reason! Kate DiCamillo is a wonderful author, and I loved this book and "Because of Winn-Dixie" growing up. This is a tale of love, adventure, and forgiveness that you'll want to read again and again!

The adventures of Desperaux Tilling, a small mouse of unusual talents, the princess that he loves, the servant girl who longs to be a princess, and a devious rat determined to bring them all to ruin.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler book
#3
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Written by E.L. Konigsburg
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Having run away with her younger brother to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, twelve-year-old Claudia strives to keep things in order in their new home and to become a changed person and a heroine to herself.

The View from Saturday book
#4
The View from Saturday
Written by E.L. Konigsburg
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

HOW HAD MRS. OLINSKI CHOSEN her sixth-grade Academic Bowl team? She had a number of answers. But were any of them true? How had she really chosen Noah and Nadia and Ethan and Julian? And why did they make such a good team? It was a surprise to a lot of people when Mrs. Olinski's team won the sixth-grade Academic Bowl contest at Epiphany Middle School. It was an even bigger surprise when they beat the seventh grade and the eighth grade, too. And when they went on to even greater victories, everyone began to ask: How did it happen? It happened at least partly because Noah had been the best man (quite by accident) at the wedding of Ethan's grandmother and Nadia's grandfather. It happened because Nadia discovered that she could not let a lot of baby turtles die. It happened when Ethan could not let Julian face disaster alone. And it happened because Julian valued something important in himself and saw in the other three something he also valued. Mrs. Olinski, returning to teaching after having been injured in an automobile accident, found that her Academic Bowl team became her answer to finding confidence and success. What she did not know, at least at first, was that her team knew more than she did the answer to why they had been chosen. This is a tale about a team, a class, a school, a series of contests and, set in the midst of this, four jewel-like short stories -- one for each of the team members -- that ask questions and demonstrate surprising answers.

Number the Stars book
#5
Number the Stars
Written by Lois Lowry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I read this for the first time in a mother-daughter book club and it's a phenomenal introduction to the Holocaust, and a beautiful story about friendship. There are enough details to help younger readers understand some of what was going on and convey the seriousness of the situation, but without the more gory details that are important to remember but are more appropriate for an older audience. It's also a quick read!

In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns how to be brave and courageous when she helps shelter her Jewish friend from the Nazis.

Bud, Not Buddy book
#6
Bud, Not Buddy
Written and illustrated by Christopher Paul Curtis
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father--the renowned bandleader, H. E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.

Last Stop on Market Street book
#7
Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt De La Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This is a book that makes me think everyone needs a grandmother like Nana. She sees the positive in all of the hard things in life. Her grandson has so many questions about why they don't have certain things, like a car, and she has the perfect answer of how to see that what they have is enough. She also shows him how to find beauty when life doesn't seem beautiful.

A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things. By the author of the celebrated picture book A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.

The Crossover book
#8
The Crossover
Written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

Kwame Alexander's NYT Bestseller and Newbery Medal winning The Crossover is vividly brought to life as a graphic novel with stunning illustrations by star talent Dawud Anyabwile.

Holes book
#9
Holes
Written by Louis Sachar
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
Thoughts from Mr. Staccato

Holes has been a longtime favorite of mine ever since Mrs. Jeffs read it to me in the 6th grade. The fun characters, the exhaustion of digging 5-foot holes in the desert day-after-day, and a refreshing gulp of sploosh. Just watch out for those poisonous lizards.

As further evidence of his family's bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.

The One and Only Ivan book
#10
The One and Only Ivan
Written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by Patricia Castelao
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Soon to be a major motion picture! This Harper Classic edition of the Newbery Medal winner and #1 New York Times bestseller includes an author's note, a letter from the real Ivan's caretaker at Zoo Atlanta, Ivan's "signature," discussion questions, and more. This unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated book is told from the point of view of Ivan himself. Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes. In the tradition of timeless classics such as Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. Katherine Applegate's novel blends humor and poignancy to create this incredible tale of friendship, art, and hope. The One and Only Ivan was named to multiple state lists, received three starred reviews, and was hailed as a best book of the year by Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Amazon. Plus don't miss Katherine Applegate's Endling series!

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  1. Top 10 Newbery Books
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