Celebrating Black Newbery Honorees and Winners

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Celebrating Black Newbery Honorees and Winners

In 2022, we are celebrating 100 years of the Newbery Medal! The Medal is given to an author who wrote an excellent book for children the previous year. The award has been given 100 times, and the recipients of the award have changed over time. Today, in celebration of the Newbery centennial and Black History Month, we are highlighting ten Black authors who have won the Newbery or a Newbery Honor! 

Note: All titles are linked to their physical copies, and most are available as library e-books and/or e-audiobooks with OverDrive and its app Libby.

New Kid by Jerry Craft
Dive into a new school alongside Jordan as he navigates his love of art and drawing alongside the microaggressions and struggles that come with not quite fitting in. This is a graphic novel, and was the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal, when it won in 2020.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Basketball and brotherhood collide in this novel in verse all about the power of family. Josh Bell has to learn how to balance becoming a teenager, being a good brother, and being a strong son when family issues compound on and off the court. The Crossover won the 2015 Newbery Medal. 

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
The story of an enslaved man, Henry Brown, who became known as ‘Box’ comes to life through illustration and lyric poetry in this biography that was a 2021 Newbery Honor Book.  Learn all about Henry Brown in his own words, as well. 

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
In this moving tale of the tight-knit Logan family facing racism and prejudice in 1920s Mississippi, we meet beloved characters like Cassie Loan, who learns to stand up for herself and her values. The title won the Newbery Medal in 1977. 

M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
Meet Mayo Cornelius Higgins -- MC Higgins the Great -- in this mountains-set novel about fame and freedom and the future we can only dream of for ourselves. Virginia Hamilton, who won the Newbery Medal in 1975 for this book, was the first Black author to win the medal!

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
Get ready to groove along to this fun, vibrant book all about the magic that happens in a barbershop when you see your reflection in the mirror. Full of Black Boy Joy, this book was recognized with multiple awards and was a 2018 Newbery Honor Book, as well as a Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor Book. 

Somewhere in the Darkness by Walter Dean Myers
A father and son go on the run together across the country in this gripping tale of family, crime, innocence, and understanding by beloved author Walter Dean Meyers. This title was a 1993 Newbery Honor Book. 

To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
The long hidden, or overlooked, words of enslaved people come to life in this eye-opening tale of the Atlantic slave trade and life in bondage. The text is accompanied by great paintings. Lester was a 1968 Newbery Honor medalist. 

Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice by Philip Hoose
Learn about a civil rights moment often forgotten in this award-winning biography about Claudette Colvin, who was just a teenager when she got involved in the movement. From a bus boycott to a segregation Supreme Court case, Claudette Colvin kept marching towards justice. Hoose’s biography of Colvin was a 2010 Newbery Honor Book. 

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
Genesis is not happy, especially with herself. She keeps a list of things she hates about herself, and in this heartbreaking contemporary novel, she learns to change her attitude about herself while combating internalized racism, family issues, and verbal abuse. This book was a 2020 Newbery Honor Book and a finalist for the Morris Award.