Reading Through the Newbery List

The library and bookstore ranked high among the favorite places of my childhood. Here, my parents displayed endless patience as they waited for me to pick out my selections. Cautionary words about not judging books by their covers were only partially heeded, as a book’s physical appearance was often what caught my eye and prompted further investigation (i.e., reading the dust jacket or back cover to find out what this beautiful book was about).

Like anyone else with a love of reading, I developed favorite authors whose works often made it to my check-out pile or shopping bag. Criteria for the unfamiliar typically depended on two characteristics. One was thickness of the volume (the thicker the better so the delight of reading it would last longer). The other was the presence of a medal or seal related to the Newbery Award on the front cover.

A Newbery Medal or Honor seal meant a book was special. It was among the best of the best among children’s books. It was a book I wanted to read, and when it came to buying, Mom and Dad were more inclined to say yes.

I didn’t read all the Newbery books back then, but I made it a goal to do so eventually. I also decided, since it was already my goal to grow up to be a writer, I wanted to write a book that would earn such a medal for its cover. (It could still happen.)

For now, I am finally getting started on reading all the Newbery Medal books. I’m working through the list chronologically, including the ones I’ve already read since it’s been a while. I’m tracking my progress on Goodreads and I intend to post reviews on my blog. (I’ll continue writing on other topics, so I’ve created a separate category for all Newbery related posts.) I would like to finish by the end of the year, which adds 93 books to any “grown-up” reading I’ll do as well. I like the challenge though. (Update: I set this goal, started having kids, finished the reading, but got way behind on publishing my reviews. In order to finally bring this series up to date, I’m changing my approach. Instead of a separate review post for each book, I’ll summarize by decade.)

Once that’s done, I’d like to tackle the Newbery Honor books. I’m thinking I’ll need to set a longer goal for that, as a quick scan over the list shows a couple years had as many as eight honorees … yeah, this is going to take a while. Since all this reading could be considered research for writing Newbery worthy literature someday, it will be my largest research project ever. I am optimistic it will also be the most fun.

Reading through the Newbery list isn’t a novel idea (I honestly wasn’t going for a pun there), but it’s something I keep saying I’m meaning to do. I also keep saying I wish I read more. As it may have been inferred earlier, childhood me was a voracious reader. I suppose it’s fitting to regain that characteristic through children’s literature.


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