1922: The First Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature Awarded

Newbery Award Medal

Ninety years ago today, the children’s book The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon received the first ever Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature.  The award itself was the idea of Frederic G. Melcher, a former bookseller and editor for Publisher’s Weekly, who proposed the award at the June 1921 meeting for the Children’s Librarians’ Section of ALA.  In his proposal, he suggested that award be named after John Newbery, an 18th century English bookseller and author who is considered the father of children’s literature as a genre.  The intent of the Newbery Medal was to promote excellence and originality in children’s books and to give them the same type of public recognition as novels, plays, and poetry for adults.

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