Newbery Winners: A Look Back at Some Memorable Books

Published Thursday, January 24, 2019

With the 2019 Newbery Medal winner soon to be announced, I thought this would be a good time to review some of the previous winners, particularly the winners from over 50 years ago. The following five books are just a few that stand out to me as great stories that hold classic values and lessons. You can view the complete list of the Newbery winners and honor books here. We have many of the winners and honor books in our collection and if you are interested in reading some (or all!), visit our online catalog. If we do not have them, we are happy to request them from other libraries in the system.


Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs
1934 Medal Winner

Louisa May Alcott comes to life in this biography. It is written in a suitable way for young readers to appreciate Louisa’s determination and diligence during hard times. Photographs of the Alcott family and their homes are included. Fans of Little Women will particularly enjoy this and those who are not familiar with Louisa May Alcott will hopefully gain a newfound interest in her books.

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Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
1945 Medal Winner

Rabbit Hill is for the readers who enjoy humor and of course, talking animals. Little Georgie and his woodland friends anticipate the coming of New Folks moving into the Big House, which has been empty for a time. The question is – will the New Folks be Good Folks with a luscious garden? I had fun reading this in fifth grade and I’m sure many other children will too.

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Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
1946 Medal Winner

Strawberry Girl is the second book in the author’s The American Regional Series. Strawberry Girl tells the story of the Boyer family, who settle in early 1900’s Florida to build a new life. The characters as well as the readers learn the importance of respect among neighbors, forgiveness, and teamwork.

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Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
1956 Medal Winner

This is the true story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a hard-working and determined man who changed the seafaring world with his natural ability for mathematics. His book, The New American Practical Navigator was and is still used by U.S. Navy ships. I am not a lover of math or ships, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Bowditch and how he “sailed by ash breeze” even when obstacles and tragedy entered his life. Adventure on seas and to distant lands makes this book an exciting read for history buffs.

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The High King by Lloyd Alexander
1969 Medal Winner

So this one is not over 50 years old; it is actually 50 years, but I had to include it! The Chronicles of Prydain is a well-written fantasy series that I feel has been overshadowed by contemporary fantasy books. Drawing from Welsh mythology, Lloyd Alexander writes a story of magical adventure, love, loss, friendship, and the true meaning of what it is to be a hero or heroine. The High King is the final installment of the series that gives a satisfying end to the readers. Fantasy lovers should definitely give this series a try.

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About the Author

Tirzah is the Youth Services Assistant and a Circulation Clerk. She enjoys helping to plan and assist with our fun youth events and is always happy to help patrons find their next great read.