Check Out All the Award-Winning Kids & YA Books From 2020

Newbery, Caldecott, and more!

Looking for great books to add to your classroom library or to launch a new lesson plan? This list of 2020 award-winning books for kids is a good start!

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The Newbery Medal Winner: New Kid, written and illustrated by Jerry Craft

About the Award: Named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. This award is given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of ALA, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

About the Book: This middle-grade graphic novel follows seventh grader Jordan Banks. He loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

(Note, this title was also the winner of the Coretta Scott King award! Given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.)

The Caldecott Medal Winner: The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Kwame Alexander

About the Award: Named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. This award is given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of ALA, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

About the Book: For grades 3 and up, this book is a poem that is also a love letter to black life in the United States. Highlights include the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. 

(Note, this title was also the winner of the Coretta Scott King award! Given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.)

The Michael L. Printz Award Winner: Dig by A.S. King

About the Award: Named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. Award given for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

About the Book: In this young adult novel, a toxic culture of polite white supremacy tears a family apart. And one determined generation digs its way out.

The Batchelder Award Winner: Brown, written by Håkon Øvreås

About the Award: This award is given to a United States publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originating in a country other than the United States, in a language other than English, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States.

About the Book: For grades K-5. Dressed in brown pants, a black-and-brown striped shirt, a brown mask and cape, and his mother’s brown belt, the superhero BROWN is born! Guided by his grandfather’s ghost, two cans of paint, and a little help from his friends, Brown can do anything. Just as long as nobody’s parents find out.

The Geisel Award Winner: Stop! Bot! written and illustrated by James Yang

About the Award: Given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers. Must be published in English in the United States during the preceding year.

About the Book: A very young picture book mystery that follows a little boy out for a walk with his family. He stops to show a building doorman his new “bot” only it escapes into the sky like a balloon.

The Odyssey Award Winner: Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

About the Award: Given to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults. Must be available in English in the United States.

About the Book: Recommended for middle school and older students. Hey, Kiddo is an important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.

The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner (Picture Book): Saturday by Oge Mora

About the Award: First awarded in 1967, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards honor excellence in literature for children and young adults.

About the Book: Also a Caldecott Honor-winning author! Join a mother and daughter on an up-and-down journey that reminds them of what’s best about Saturdays: precious time together.

The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner (Fiction): King and the Dragonflies  by Kacen Callender

About the Award: First awarded in 1967, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards honor excellence in literature for children and young adults.

About the Book: In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy’s grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself.

The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner (Nonfiction): Infinite Hope  by Ashley Bryan

About the Award: First awarded in 1967, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards honor excellence in literature for children and young adults.

About the Book: Author and illustrator Ashley Bryan takes us on a journey to WWII. A deeply moving picture book memoir about serving in the segregated army. Love and the pursuit of art sustained him.

(Note, this title was also a recipient of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award. And the Bologna Ragazzi Non-Fiction Special Mention Honor Award!)

The Hans Christian Andersen Award Winner (Author): Jacqueline Woodson

About the Award: Given every other year by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). This award recognizes lifelong achievement and is presented to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature.

About the Book: Just one example of Woodson’s work. This book features vivid poems that share what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award Winner (Illustrator): Albertine 

About the Award: Given every other year by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). This award recognizes lifelong achievement and is presented to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children’s literature.

About the Book: Just one example of Albertine’s work! This picture book is a heartwarming story that follows a man and a little bird.

The Morris Award Winner: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

About the Award: Given to a debut author who demonstrates an “impressive new voice” in young adult literature. 

About the Book: A hilarious YA contemporary realistic novel about a witty Black French Canadian teen who moves to Austin, Texas. There, he experiences the joys, clichés, and awkward humiliations of the American high school experience—including falling in love.

Pura Belpré Award Winner: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, written by Carlos Hernandez

About the Award: Named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. Award presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. Co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA, and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

About the Book: A sci-fi romp with Cuban influence. This chapter book for grades 3-7 features Spanish slang and amazing Cuban food!

Pura Belpré Award Winner: Dancing Hands by Rafael López (Illustrator)

About the Award: Named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. Award presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. Co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA, and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

About the Book: López illustrates this stunning picture book that tells the story of Teresa Carreño, a child prodigy who played piano for Abraham Lincoln.

Which of these award-winning kids books are you most looking forward to sharing with your class? Share in the comments below.

Also, check out our best books for the classroom, by grade and subject.

Check Out All the Award-Winning Kids & YA Books From 2020

Posted by Nikki Katz

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor at WeAreTeachers. She is also an author and an ex-rocket scientist. Her two young adult novels 'The Midnight Dance' and 'The King's Questioner' are on sale in stores now!

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