Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Introduction to the Newbery

Today’s guest blogger is Lan Gao. Lan currently works as the Senior Librarian in the Youth Services Department at the Cleveland Public Library downtown branch. I asked if she would share how she was introduced to the Newbery Award.

I first came across the Newbery Medal only seven years ago. So I am rather new to Newbery. 

You might wonder why I had such a late encounter with Newbery. This is because I was born and raised in China and moved to the States as an adult. As someone who transplanted oneself during adulthood, I had to acquire extensive knowledge of various subjects for my life here in the States: English as a Second Language, American Popular Culture, American Social Norms, Local History, Library Classification Systems, and American Children’s Literature. 

I grew up reading Chinese Children’s Literature, and I was an avid reader of that genre. So I was familiar with stories, settings, and characters of Chinese Children’s Literature. However, my exposure to American Children’s Literature was rather limited at that time. I started to look for methods to immerse myself into the best books of American Children’s Literature. 

Newbery Medal and Honor Books List is one of the most useful resources that helped me. I studied the list of Newbery Medal and Honor Books from 1922 to 2012 and started to read the most recent ones first. I remember the books that I read and liked: 

The One and Only Evan by Katherine Applegate, 

Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool,


Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. I still have fond memories of those reading experiences. 

Newbery Medal and Honor books represent an excellent selection of American Literature for Children’s books. I will continue my efforts to read Newbery books. As a library professional, it is essential for me to keep up with the current American Children’s Literature so I can help my patrons to select books they want to read. Newbery’s choices enable me to achieve that goal. At the same time, I strongly advocate inclusiveness and diversity in literature as well as in library collection. I look forward to seeing more books that tell today’s stories of children from around the world get selected by the Newbery Committee. 

Thank you, Lan, for sharing your experience with our readers.

Annisha Jeffries About Annisha Jeffries

Annisha Jeffries is the head of the youth services department at Cleveland Public Library. She was a member of the 2007 ALSC Board and served on several selection committees, including the 2018 Caldecott Committee. A 2000-2001 Spectrum Scholarship recipient, Jeffries is currently the Chair of the Norman A, Sugarman Children's Biography Award.
She can be reached at


  1. I really enjoyed this perspective. It’s wonderful that more diversity is being considered every year. Did you enjoy Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin?
    There are so many diverse titles this year that I have enjoyed. I am nearly finished reading A Place to Belong, by Cynthia Kadohata and am truly loving it, particularly the character development. Jiichan and Baachan are so wonderful. I love Yoshimi, too.

    I was so thrilled when Hello, Universe wn as it featured deaf representation in the story. I hope one day to find a Newbery or Honor book with positive representation for the blind. As long as different diversities are celebrated, everyone is given a voice.

    • Thank you Meredith. I remember reading Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. It was such a magical story. I also like Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again. I like your suggestions. Will check out the two titles mentioned by you.

      Totally agree with you, we should celebrate different diversities.

Speak Your Mind