Jerry Craft’s middle-grade book New Kid became the first graphic novel to win the John Newbery Medal, considered one of the most prestigious literary awards for books written for young readers.
The book also took home the Coretta Scott King Author Award at the American Library Association’s 2020 Youth Media Awards, which were announced Monday in Philadelphia.
New Kid, which won the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature, tells the story of a young African American boy struggling to fit in with his peers at a tony New York day school. A reviewer for Kirkus called it “an engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America.”
This year’s Randolph Caldecott Medal for best American picture book went to The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander. The book, about notable African Americans, was a finalist for the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature.
The ALA also named four Newbery Honor books: The Undefeated, Christian McKay Heidicker’s Scary Stories for Young Foxes (illustrated by Junyi Wu), Jasmine Warga’s Other Words for Home, and Alicia D. Williams’ Genesis Begins Again (also a Kirkus Prize finalist).
The Newbery Medal was first awarded in 1922. Previous winners have included Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Paula Fox’s The Slave Dancer, Louis Sachar’s Holes, and Meg Medina’s Merci Suárez Changes Gears.
A full list of winners of the 2020 Youth Media Awards is available at the ALA website.
Michael Schaub is an Austin, Texas–based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.