Favorite Newbery Award Winners + Printable List
This year, I’ve read seven Newbery award winners and several of the Newbery honor books. They often have rich plot lines, rich characters, and a beautiful writing style. Here are my top favorite Newbery award winners. Someday I hope to read them all. To keep track of them, I made a free printable list! 🙂
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Newbery Award Winners
I didn’t like this year’s Newbery as much as others on this list, but I thought I’d give my two cents since it’s the newest. Merci is a middle schooler attending a private school on scholarship. She navigates the highs and lows of middle school, mean girls, her beloved grandfather battling Alzheimer’s, and her unique Cuban family lifestyle. It wasn’t a terrible book, but I didn’t think anything was particularly memorable about it.
I really enjoyed 2016’s Newbery Honor book The War That Saved My Life, but I thought it was interesting that a picture book won. Last Stop on Market Street has great pictures and is about appreciating your community.
Told in free-verse poetry, this is the story of an African-American twin who loves basketball. I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would. I’m not a huge fan of poetry books, but this was intelligently written and handled themes like sibling rivalry and the loss of a parent. I also liked it better than another freeverse Newbery, Out of the Dust.
Going into this book, I didn’t know what to expect but I love Kate DiCamillo. Kate really can write any genre from heartwarming to this quirky and silly book. Flora and her squirrel Ulysses are just two of this story’s eccentric characters. Quirky kids or highly gifted kids (especially those who love vocabulary!) are going to LOVE this one. It blends a graphic novel with text beautifully.
Inspired by a true story, this novel is from the point of view of a gorilla in a shopping mall named Ivan. It was written simply but well, making it a solid choice for all ages. Sweet and poignant, this reminded me of a good Pixar movie.
I remember reading this in elementary school and instantly being captivated by the beautiful story of a mouse, a princess, and a spool of thread. The chapters are short, and it would make a solid read-aloud.
Holes is one of my all-time favorite books and movies. Stanley Yelnats is wrongly accused of stealing a pair of shoes and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a detention camp that is neither green nor has a lake. He must dig one hole every day…but why? This story is filled with adventure, friendship, and is an enduring classic I’d recommend to anyone. It also doesn’t shy away from difficult topics like racism, but it handles them well.
This one might be better for teens, but The Giver is one of the most brilliant books I’ve read. Jonas lives in a perfect world with no pain, no hunger, no color, and no sadness. It comes at a hefty price as happiness, love, and beauty are non-existent. It’s thought-provoking and a must-read for mature middle schoolers and teens.
I’ve read dozens of Holocaust novels, and Number the Stars remains one of my favorites. During the Holocaust, Denmark was able to save 97% of their Jewish population by working together. It’s an incredible story of a nation’s bravery, told from the perspective of 10-year-old Annemarie. It is simple enough for elementary students, but older students will be able to realize how much the Danish risked in helping their neighbors.
A selfish boy nicknamed Prince Brat and his whipping boy find themselves trading places, prince and the pauper style. It’s not as graphic as the title suggests, has a bit of humor mixed in, and is a solid adventurous story of friendship. It would pair well for a medieval study, since there are so few books on that topic.
My Favorite Newbery Honor Books
I cannot speak highly enough of this book. Hollis Woods has grown up in the foster care system her whole life. When she is sent to live with Josie, an elderly woman, everything seems perfect – until Josie starts to lose her memory. Read it. You will not regret it.
I’ve read almost all of Patricia Reilly Giff’s books. I love her plots, characters, and style. During the 1940s, Lily is spending the summer in Rockaway where she befriends a Hungarian refugee named Albert. Like everyone, Lily is not perfect and her mistakes may come with a price.
Ada is a 10-year-old girl who has never gone outside before. Because of her club foot, her mother is embarrassed by her and refuses to let her outside of the house. As WWII rages on, she is sent to London and fate brings her and her little brother to live with Susan. This story was so well written and engrossing. It’s heart-wrenching at times and you find yourself rooting for little Ada despite her mistrust and brokenness. HOWEVER, there are VERY subtle hints of lesbianism and the use of the word “slut.” It also handles very mature topics (abuse, neglect) so I think this one is best for mature tweens and teens.