The Best Books of 2012

The American Library Association honors last year's top children's books

January 28, 2013


It’s not just awards season for actors. It’s a time to honor authors, too. On Monday, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the top children's books of 2012. The John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals and the Coretta Scott King Book Awards are the best-known honors, but other prizes were also handed out at the ALA Youth Media Awards ceremony in Seattle, Washington.

Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan is the John Newbery Medal winner for 2012.

Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan is the John Newbery Medal winner for 2012.

And the Winners Are…

Author Katherine Applegate took home the John Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children's literature for The One and Only Ivan. The book tells the story of a gorilla named Ivan, who lives among humans and rarely misses the jungle. The tale of courage, which was inspired by a true story, is told in Ivan’s voice. The Newbery Medal is named after John Newbery, an 18th-century bookseller. It is awarded each year.

The picture book This Is Not My Hat won the Randolph Caldecott Medal. The Caldecott Medal for illustrators is named after Randolph Caldecott, a 19th-century illustrator. The winning book was illustrated and written by Jon Klassen. A follow-up to Klassen’s best-selling book I Want My Hat Back, it tells the story of a little fish who steals a blue bowler hat from a big fish and the adventures that follow.

More Honored Books

Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat is the Randolph Caldecott Medal winner for 2012.

The Coretta Scott King award is given to an African-American author and illustrator of "outstanding books for children and young adults." This year, the author award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America. The book was written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney. The husband-and-wife team have both won ALA awards in the past. Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America is a collection of stories about 10 extraordinary and accomplished men from different eras in American history.

The King prize for best-illustrated work went to I, Too, Am America, illustrated by Bryan Collier. The book was written by Langston Hughes, a poet famous for using the rhythm of jazz and of everyday speech in his poetry. Through its pictures, the book tells the history of porters on Pullman Company trains.

Katherine Paterson, who has won many honors including two Newbery Awards and two National Book Awards, received the Laura Ingalls Wilder prize for lifetime achievement. Paterson, who is 80 years old, has written more than 30 books.

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