Marcia Strykowski

2022 ALA Youth Media Awards

Everyone’s been talking about the latest American Library Association awards for last year’s children’s books. It’s a great honor for authors and illustrators to show an ALA award sticker on their books. From the announcement date on, sales skyrocket. Here are some of the highlights.

Winner of the 2022 Newbery Medal is The Last Cuentista, written by Donna Barba Higuera, and published by Levine Querido.

Four Newbery Honor Books were also chosen: Red, White, and Whole, written by Rajani LaRocca and published by Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; A Snake Falls to Earth, written by Darcie Little Badger and published by Levine Querido; Too Bright to See, written by Kyle Lukoff and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House; and Watercress, written by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin and published by Neal Porter Books, Holiday House.

The 2022 Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children goes to Watercress, illustrated by Jason Chin, written by Andrea Wang and published by Neal Porter Books, Holiday House. Yep, this one won a place in the Newbery awards and grabbed the top prize Caldecott Medal! After reading one of the comments on this post about whether any of these books were (or will be) banned, I happened to read an SLJ article. It ends with a quotation from Jason Chin, winning illustrator of the Caldecott. He says: “I am really, really grateful that librarians are such advocates for diversity of representation and fighting against censorship, and for free speech and artistic expression.”

Four Caldecott Honor Books were also chosen: Have You Ever Seen a Flower? illustrated and written by Shawn Harris and published by Chronicle Books; Mel Fell, illustrated and written by Corey R. Tabor and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and published by Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group; and Wonder Walkers, illustrated and written by Micha Archer and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.

Both Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults went to Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper and published by Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. Just to note, Floyd Cooper passed away last August. If only he could have known about the impressive awards he would receive for his gorgeous work. This book was also a Siebert honor book.

The Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement went to Nikki Grimes! I heard her give a powerful presentation at the School Library Journal Day of Dialogue in Cambridge, MA a couple of years ago. For more info about that, click here.
The Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award recognizes an author or entity who has made a substantial contribution over time to the genre of Jewish children’s literature. This year’s winner is Jane Yolen, yay, well deserved! To revisit a special time I spent with Jane, click here.
And last but definitely not least, the Children’s Literature Legacy Award recipient is Grace Lin! A perfect choice for this award that honors one author or illustrator who has made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences. Click here for a new two-part interview with Grace on the fabulous Writers’ Rumpus blog.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults goes to Firekeeper’s Daughter, written by Angeline Boulley and is published by Henry Holt and Company, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. Four Printz Honor Books were also named.

The Schneider Family Book Award is for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience. The first award (for ages 0-8) goes to: My City Speaks, written by Darren Lebeuf, illustrated by Ashley Barron and published by Kids Can Press Ltd.
The middle grade Schneider award goes to: A Bird Will Soar, written by Alison Green Myers and published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.
And for young adults we have: Words in My Hands, written and illustrated by Asphyxia and published by Annick Press, Ltd.

Wow, what a great bunch of books. The above winners cover less than half of the awards and categories, to see the full list please click here.

CONGRATULATIONS to all who crafted beautiful books this past year!


  1. Thanks for sharing these. So many great books!


  2. What a fabulous lineup of prize-winning books!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joyce Ray

    Thanks for highlighting these award-winning titles. I’ll be checking my library for some of them soon! Isn’t it exciting when you realize you actually know some of these authors?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cathy Ballou Mealey

    So wonderful that these books will get into the hands of even more readers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! Awards are such a big help to librarians and teachers, if they happened to miss these gems.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It was great to read that list.


  6. Bette Norton

    It was interesting to see all the award-winning books! I especially liked revisiting your boot camp experience with Jane Yolen! What an amazing experience that was! A great post!


  7. Joyce Teal


    Thank you for sharing on your blog!!! I know how much you love writing especially for the hard to reach tween readers.

    I am sure you are aware of the uproar about books in school libraries and classrooms. Can you find out if any of the books that have earned the Caldecort Awards are targeted books? I searched to see if I could find a site that listed whether or not those books have been targeted by parents. I know this is a big ask but I can’t find a source and wondered if you knew of one.

    Thank you so much and keep writing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joyce, I don’t know that any of this year’s winning books have been targeted, yet, but I do know it’s important to publishers to make sure stories are now being told by those who are from similar backgrounds to their characters. For example, The Last Cuentista has a lot of Mexican folklore throughout the story and its author, who is Mexican American, was raised on that folklore. That probably doesn’t answer your questions. It’s unfortunate that books are being banned for telling the truth. Such as those written by and about people of color. Jerry Craft’s work, based on his own life, is a good example of books being banned despite their popularity with children. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Michelle Elder

    Hello, Marcia,

    Great post! I’m looking forward to reading Firekeepers Daughter–I didn’t know it was an award winner!

    Also love the cover of The Last Cuentista.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh good, that does look like an interesting read. I’ll have to add it to my list, too, and then we can compare thoughts. 🙂 Thanks, Michelle!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Edna Lord

    Wow! Congratulations on your awesome books!

    Sent from my iPad



    • Yes, a great group! Each year they pick out a great bunch of winners.


  10. Marcia, I am so glad you posted this list. You always have the best way of describing the books and the awards. Thank you! Have you read any of these books? I especially thrilled about Jane Yolen and Grace Lin. Hats off to librarians who will always champion every book.


  11. I enjoyed your rundown of those awards. You write so knowledgebly.


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