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ALA Youth Media Awards 2020

History was made at the ALA Youth Media Awards this year when the top honor, the Newbery Medal, went to Jerry Craft for his graphic novel New Kid. But from the moment the awards were announced, graphic povels were peppered throughout the different honors.

By now, graphic novelist and cartoonists have garnered an award in practically every major category. This is so different from the beginning of my career as a librarian. Once, I had to work so hard to convince teachers to even recognize them as reading and now I have teachers battling to get enough copies so that they can teach it in their classroom!

In 2007, Gene Leun Yang’s American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to win the Michael L. Printz Award. It was also the first time a book committee gave a graphic novel such high honors. Since then, a graphic novel has won a Caldecott and finally now a Newbery.

Here are some of the other books recognized during today’s ALA Youth Media Awards in Philadelphia, with links to reviews. (Most are from Good Comics for Kids, but a couple had not yet been reviewed here.)

The Newbery Medal went to….
New Kid by Jerry Craft. In addition Jerry Craft was awarded a Coretta Scott King Author Award.

A Printz Honor was awarded to Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

The Asian/Pacific Award for Children’s literature, which recognizes literature that portrays Asian/Pacific Americans and honors their heritage, went to Stargazing, and the winner of the Asian/Pacific Award for YA Literature was They Called Us Enemy by George Takai, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker.

The Alex Award, which is given to adult books that have YA interest was given to: Gender Queer: A Memoir, By Maia Kobabe, and In Waves, by AJ Dungo.

book cover

The Sydney Taylor Gold Medalist for Middle Grade was White Bird by R.J. Palacio. This award is given to books that authentically portray the Jewish experience.

The Odyssey Award, which is given to outstanding audio production, went to Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction, produced by Scholastic Audiobooks. The book is written by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and narrated by the author, Jeanne Birdsall, Jenna Lamia, Richard Ferrone and a full cast.

Note: The linked review is not for the audio production, but the actual comic. (Incidentally, our very own Robin Brenner chaired this committee!)

Congratulations to all the award winners! Keep up the great storytelling.

For a full list of the awards, graphic novel or not, you can look here. 

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Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

Comments

  1. No coverage on the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award? While not as flashy as the other awards, it’s certainly newsworthy. Allow me to offer my congratulations to Rex Ogle for his memoir Free Lunch winning the award! (Yes, I was on the committee. No, I don’t feel bad about ever promoting nonfiction and its importance in connecting readers with stories.)

    • Esther Keller Esther Keller says:

      Good Comics for Kids covers graphic novels and my post was about comics that won awards. I was not aware that Free Lunch was a graphic nonfiction or I would have surely included it in my list. Looking online, glimpsing inside the book, and the bibliographic information, there is no indication that this is a graphic nonfiction. But I do agree that YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction is a very worthy award.

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