The picture book honorees for 2020 represent a wide array of experiences and themes, expressed through stunning art coupled with engaging text. Let’s take a closer look at some of my favorites.
At the Mountain’s Base, written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre (Kokila, 2019).
An American Indian Youth Literature Honor book.
The lines in Alvitre’s watercolors echo and extend this story of a Cherokee family waiting for a loved one to return from military service.
Bilal Cooks Daal, written by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed (Salaam Reads, 2019).
An Asian/Pacific American Literature Award Honor book.
Bilal and his neighborhood friends enjoy preparing the South Asian dish in this cheerful offering, accompanied by colorful, child-centered illustrations.
When Spring Comes to the DMZ, written and illustrated by Ok-Pae Lee (Plough, 2019).
A Mildred L. Batchelder Award Honor book.
Detailed watercolors that evoke traditional Korean painting techniques illuminate this story of a grandfather’s longing.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle, written by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña
A Pura Belpré Award winner.
Our 3rd grade students loved the energetic movement in this story of Daisy’s twilight ride through her California town, and chose it as Pike’s Mock Caldecott winner this year.
The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Versify, 2019).
The Randolph Caldecott Medal winner, the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner, and a John Newbery Honor book.
Powerful poetry, enriched by lush oil paintings, illuminates the Black experience in America. When I read this book at a Social Studies department meeting, you could have heard a pin drop.
A Friend for Henry written by Jenn Bailey, illustrated by Mika Song (Chronicle, 2019).
A Schneider Family Award winner.
The watercolor and ink illustrations here are quiet and expressive, capturing small moments of emotion with elegant simplicity as Henry navigates his emotions.
Hey, Water! written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis (Neal Porter, 2019).
A Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal Honor book.
A girl’s engaging “conversation” with water is the vehicle for showing its many forms, supported by bold, textured illustrations and the effective use of perspective.
When Aidan Became a Brother written by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (Lee & Low, 2019).
A Stonewall Award winner.
Lukoff’s warm story about an expanding family centers Aidan’s joys and worries, while affirming his identity as a trans boy.
The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come, written by Sue Macy, illustrated by Stacy Innerst (Simon & Schuster, 2019).
A Sydney Taylor Book Award winner.
In this illustrated biography of Aaron Lansky, Macy and Innerst both take inspiration from Jewish culture and heritage.
- At the beginning of the school year, get the YMA announcement on your calendar so you can be ready to order titles. When I can, I order from a local independent bookstore right after the award webcast.
- Buy the stickers to put on your books. Note that you need to order directly from AILA, APALA, and AJL.
- Display and booktalk the books to students and to teachers. When my budget allows, I hold a faculty book giveaway as a promotion.
- If you have the ability to add the award information in the 586 field of your MARC records, then you, faculty, and students can search easily by award name. Have students practice some online catalog searches!
- Get creative with other ways you can promote. We had always noted Newbery-winning titles on our summer reading lists. This year, we have committed to doing the same for many more of the YMA honorees, and will include these brief descriptions of the awards as a way to educate families.
ALA Youth Media Award Summaries
Please refer to our grade 3 - 5 2019 SummerReads list for specific notation.
- American Indian Youth Literature Award: honoring work by and about American Indians and Alaska Natives.
- Asian/Pacific American Literature Award: honoring work about Asian/Pacific American heritage.
- Mildred L. Batchelder Award: outstanding book published internationally.
- Pura Belpré Award: excellent portrayal of the Latinx experience.
- Randolph Caldecott Award: distinguished illustration.
- Coretta Scott King Book Award: appreciation of African American culture.
- John Newbery Award: distinguished writing.
- Schneider Family Award: artistic expression of the disability experience.
- Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal: distinguished informational book.
- Stonewall Award: exceptional merit relating to the GLBT experience.
- Sydney Taylor Book Award: authentic portrayal of the Jewish experience.
As librarians, we can provide leadership and compassionate partnership for diversity, equity, and inclusion work in our school communities. The YMAs are “low-hanging fruit” in this endeavor. Let’s lift up diverse experiences and marginalized voices in our library programs, services, and collections.