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Newbery 100th Anniversary Mini-Poll on

Last week we asked Heavy Medal readers to weigh in on some poll questions inspired by the 100th Anniversary of the Newbery Medal. We’ve decided to go a little further and just put some more questions up on School Library Journal’s website. Starting today you can hop over to and respond to any or all of the 11 Newbery-related questions on the Newbery 100th Anniversary Mini-Poll.

Emily and I will be watching the results with interest, because we’re co-writing a Newbery article for a future issue of SLJ and we’ll integrate those reader responses into that writing. So start thinking about Newbery Shockers, Criteria Changes, Movie Projects and other fun and thought-provoking Newbery-related topics. The poll closes on Tuesday, November 9th at 8:00 pm EST / 5:00 pm PST.

Steven Engelfried About Steven Engelfried

Steven Engelfried is the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at


  1. The Librarian says

    I think we are getting a little over-politically-correct and no one is awarding medals to kids books that are just fun for kids. I realize this is the new thing -every book has to have diversity, or a story about a disadvantaged person, or a hadicapable person, or it has to have a lesson – like how to apologize, or how to eat, or how to act.

    YES! WE GET IT! There are other people in the world who are not white, who have problems, or whatever – but what happened to just awarding books that are fun for kids to read? DO you really think you are going to make kids into readers if everything they read is preachy? KIDS LIKE FUN!

    I have no use for reviews by major players like Kirkus, SLJ, Horn book, etc. because they are all paid reviews. I don’t believe if you took money from an author or publisher that you are going to pan a book.

    The publishing world is broken, ALA has helped create a monster, and while I honestly DO believe in DIVERSITY – I don’t believe those are the only books that should be considered for awards.

    I have seen some pretty bad books get published because they were written by a movie actor, or another famous person, while self-published books have absolutely no chance at getting an award, even if they are great, because the system is controlled by the large publishing houses.

  2. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    I won’t try to cover all of the topics that The Librarian brings up, but am always interested in the subject of “just awarding books that are fun for kids to read.” With regards to the Newbery Medal, committee members must follow the guidance of the Newbery Terms and Criteria. These
    don’t really address anything that hints at fun as a requirement. They state that the award is “not…for popularity.” It’s an award for “literary quality and quality presentation for children.” The statement that “the award is not of didactic intent” cautions the committee to not be swayed by content that is “preachy.” The Newbery Award is not an award for “fun,” but that doesn’t exclude fun books from winning…though it doesn’t happen often. There are other awards geared more towards that elusive “fun” quality…some of the state or regional “children’s choice” awards, for example.

    I can’t just dismiss the notion that “fun” should matter more, though. In our recent “Never Won a Newbery” polls, I cited HALF MAGIC as a book that should have won…and it’s essentially a “fun” book, especially compared to most winners of its mid-1950s era. When I think about (or write about) books that fall on the lighter side in terms of tone and content, I’m never quite sure that I don’t under-rate them, even subconsciously, if they’re not tackling weightier issues. I enjoy Gordon Korman for his humor, for example, but I admit that LINKED caught my attention for Newbery consideration this year because of the issues that the humor was built around.

    I don’t see the connection between the statements “every book has to have diversity,” “everything they have to read is preachy,” and “kids like fun.” When I think about “fun” books from this year, for example, I think of HARRY VS THE FIRST 100 DAYS and THE CHANCE TO FLY, both of which are filled with diversity and successfully convey themes without being preachy. They’re fun…but I wouldn’t call them “just fun.” I’m curious if The Librarian or others have suggestions from this year’s books that might address that concern. Now I’m thinking about taking a Newbery-lens look at a few pure fun books from 2021: Maybe DOG MAN: MOTHERING HEIGHTS or BIG SHOT. Any others that would fit in that list?

  3. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    I don’t know about all of the review journals, but SLJ reviewers have always been unpaid volunteers as far as I know. (If not, I am owed a ton of backpay..)

  4. Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

    There’s no doubt that many books of lesser quality are published, and some of those are by celebrities. I can’t think of any of those that have won major literary awards, though, so I’m not sure how that fits into a Newbery discussion.

  5. Is there a deadline for completing the mini poll?

    • Steven Engelfried Steven Engelfried says

      We just set a deadline for the mini poll. It will stay open through: Tuesday, November 9th, 8:00 pm EST / 5:00 pm PST.

  6. I think Tuesday is November 9. Which did you mean?

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