Today we’ve got the results of the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards, for the 100th anniversary of the first and most famous of the awards, the Newbery Medal for the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” Of the 100 books so honored, about a quarter of them are speculative fiction—you know how prestigious awards can be about genre—and most of those are fantasy. To my count, only four of the medalists can be classified as Science Fiction—and one of those, When You Reach Me, is really more historical fiction with a sci-fi element—the others are The Giver, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and my own beloved A Wrinkle In Time. (Did I miss any? Feel free to shout out. Keep in mind I only counted medalists— there are more among the Honor books).
But today we added on number five! The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barba Higuera, is an upper-Middle-Grade novel about a girl who’s woken from stasis on an intergalactic voyage to discover that she’s the only one in the literal universe who remembers the stories from the now-destroyed Earth. Look, maybe it’s hard to crack a Prestigious Award committee with science fiction, but give a group of librarians a book about the importance of stories and you’re in! Being that those stories, and our heroine’s culture, is primarily Mexican, the book ALSO won the Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award, “honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books.”
Of course, these are just two of the awards announced this morning, and there’s a wide variety of great reads getting shiny award stickers today! There are awards for every level from pre-reader to teen, awards that specifically highlight underrepresented groups, awards for fiction, nonfiction, audio, digital, translated books, and more! Click here for the full list of winners!