The Great Newbery Quest

September 21, 2017









is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these.


As some of you might have noticed, I read quite a bit of MG/YA literature. Why? I take part in two book clubs which tend to lean more YA/MG (one is exclusively for YA/MG books), but also I find that a lot of modern YA/MG books are addicting and brilliant. For the last few years, I’ve really taken an interest in better understanding why these books appeal to me. This has led me to The Great Newbery Quest!

The Newbery Medal was established in 1921 at the American Library Association annual conference. Publisher’s Weekly editor Frederick Melcher proposed the idea that the ALA honor the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”. Named for John Newbery, a 18th-century children’s book publisher, the award was enthusiastically supported by the ALA and sponsored by Melcher. The goal if this award is to encourage quality, creative children’s books and to prove to the world that children’s book deserves recognition and praise. It became the first children’s book award in the world.

While the selection process for the award has changed over the years, all winners must be selected from books written by a United States citizen or resident and must be published first or simultaneously in the United States in English during the preceding year. The runners-up also gain the distinguished title of Newbery Honor, though this only was introduced in 1971. All former runners-up were retroactively titled and stamped with the Newbery Honor seal.

The Newbery Medal has featured books from all genres: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, mystery, fantasy. In fact, there are even quite a few Newbery winners which come from mid-series books! The Newbery Medal also inspired the Caldecott Award for “the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in the United States.”

adore reading Newbery Medal and Honor books. Some of my favorite books of all time come from the list of winners. And, when I get in a book slump, I often find myself scanning the Newbery Medal winners to find a book to revive me. This led me to The Great Newbery Quest!


My goal:
Read all the Newbery Medal winners by the time the 100th Newbery Medal is awarded in January 2022. 


If you want to follow along on my journey, you can follow my progress on my Great Newbery Quest reading challenge page. I will also be posting reviews of these books as I go (though, honestly, probably not for all the books!) and cross-linking them to my challenge page.

I am super excited to be embarking on this journey. Well, honestly, I started working on it about 12 months ago. But so many of my blogger friends have told me I should write about it, I finally picked up my lappy and did so. It’s going to be so much fun. I can’t wait to share all these stories with you!

What do you think?

  • Are you familiar with the Newbery Medal?
  • What is your favorite Newbery Medal winner? Favorite Newbery Honor Award?
  • Do you think I can get all 100 books read before January 2022? Are you interested in joining me?
  • For my international friends: Do you have an equivalent award in your country?


  • Ann Marie September 21, 2017 at 9:30 am

    What an awesome endeavor!

    • Jackie B September 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you, Ann Marie! I am really looking forward to accomplishing this. It will be so much easier to keep up with all of these books after 2022, then. 😉

  • KrystiYAandWine September 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I LOVE that you’re doing this. I know we’ve chatted about a few Newberry winners in the past that you’ve read, and I’m excited to see your progress with this. It’s such a great goal!

    • Jackie B September 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      Yay! Thank you, Krysti! I’m making some great progress, actually. It helps that most of these books are shorter, so I can read a lot of them in a single sitting. Or, I can get audiobooks– typically award winning books have AMAZING narrators. They are often a bit above Siri in their narrating skills… XD

      • KrystiYAandWine September 22, 2017 at 1:29 pm

        That’s awesome! I really want to do that someday but with the William C. Morris award.

        • Jackie B September 29, 2017 at 9:04 am

          !! That’s super cool! I am totally on board with that. That is a much newer award, so it would be an easier task to take on, too. Do you have some favorite books which have won the William C Morris award, or gotten the Honor?

          • KrystiYAandWine September 30, 2017 at 10:26 am

            I may start doing it next year. Totally inspired by you of course. My favorite is probably The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. I’m also thinking about the Printz Award.

            • Jackie B October 4, 2017 at 11:08 am

              D’aw. That makes me so happy. I think these are both great awards to choose from! Lately, I’ve been searching for my audiobooks from the Odyssey and Audie award winners. There are so many great award lists! It helps a ton with picking quality literature. Well, when we have time to pick our own works… 😉

              • KrystiYAandWine October 4, 2017 at 11:48 pm

                Ooh, that’s such a great idea. It’s my goal for next year to do a few less ARCs per month and read more diversely, so I’ll have to check out those lists. 🙂

  • Krysta September 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    This is so cool! I admit, for some reason, when I was a child I actively avoided Newbery medal books because I decided I didn’t like any of the ones I had read. I decided that the committee and I just had opposite tastes. However, I think now that that was probably a big assumption for a nine-year-old. 😀 I know there ARE Newbery medal books I liked. Princess Academy, for instance!

    • Jackie B September 21, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Haha. When I was a kid, I never really stopped to think which books I was reading were Newbery winners– or, really, winners of any awards. I just read them because I had to in school. I always struggled with the books we were asked to read in school. I think that’s because I was forced to read them instead of selecting them myself. So, I will also be re-reading books I know I read as a child just to try and gain some positive memories from them.

      Yes! I really enjoyed Princess Academy — did you read the rest of the series, or only the first book?

      • Krysta September 21, 2017 at 6:50 pm

        Yeah, I had some hits and some misses as far as school readings go!

        I’ve only read the first one, though I keep telling myself I’ll get to the sequels. I need like three more of me to get through all the books!

        • Jackie B September 21, 2017 at 9:24 pm

          Ain’t that the truth. There are soooo many great books to read~ But when it comes to series, I sometimes stop reading them just to leave the love for book 1 in tact. For example, The Giver; I haven’t read the other three books in the quartet.

  • Grab the Lapels September 21, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    If you follow Alicia at Kernels of Nonsense (and you should!), you can read samples of her mini reviews. She’s very good at them. You could, if needed, write mini reviews of Newbery books if you find there are too many to do a full review for. I prefer that Alicia publish the mini reviews separately because sometimes it’s hard to comment on three mini reviews all published at once, but she’s still very good at them!

    • Jackie B September 21, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      !! Thanks for the pro tip! There are definitely too many to do a full review for. Plus, some of them are super short, so I feel like my reviews are longer than the book themselves. O_o I’ll check out her blog!

  • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer September 21, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I love that you’ve taken on this challenge Jackie! I totally can see you doing it… I love the idea of mini reviews too for books that you don’t have a lot to say about, especially if you just felt meh. I do not get on with Newberry so yeah I’m not going to join you but I love reading about your progress! ♥️

    • Jackie B October 1, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      Thanks, Dani! I definitely understand not wanting to join in– this is quite a task! And it does pigeon hole people in quite a bit to MG/YA books. 😉 I hope that it’s a great journey.

      I’ve never written mini-reviews. I know a TON of people who have, but I dunno… I’m so verbose! Can you imagine me writing a short review? Who knows. It might be a great challenge for my writing. I’ll definitely consider it. Have you ever done that before? Any pro-tips?

      • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer October 2, 2017 at 1:28 pm

        Actually your point about being verbose is a good one as I am too… plus I like being able to list my reviews independently under their proper genre.

        I HAVE considered writing short reviews though… I figured I’d focus on the one overriding thought I had while reading the book and not worry about anything else… That’s what I would do Jackie if that helps! ♥️

        • Jackie B October 6, 2017 at 10:52 pm

          That’s one of the reasons I enjoy your reviews so much! I find so much of my own thoughts and writing style reflected in your structure, but with a completely different outlook on life. I really enjoy that aspect of your blog. 🙂

          That’s a great idea! I wonder if I could just focus on the main theme of the book and write a review I feel satisfactorily about? I just did that with my review of Call it Courage— I *tried* to write a shorter review….

  • Captain's Quarters September 22, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Ahoy there matey! I gave meself this challenge many years ago before me book blogging days and got a wonderful list of all of the books thus far from a local library. I stalled out sadly but still mean to read them all one day (along with all the other millions of books out there). I look forward to this adventure of yers. I would second that for the books ye don’t have a lot to say that ye still do mini-reviews. I fer sure would read them! Arrrr!
    x The Captain

    • Jackie B October 1, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      Yarrr! Welcome back, Captain! I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has embarked on this journey. I will certainly take the Mini Review tip into consideration for some of the books I struggle to have a lot to say about. This will be pushing my writing skills, since I tend to be overly verbose. 😉 But I look forward to the challenge!

  • Captain's Quarters September 22, 2017 at 5:25 am

    PS. I looked at this list that ye’ve read so far. I will have to read those links reviews when I have more time to savour them. I counted mine out of curiosity and I have read 24. Not too shabby. Some of me absolute favourite books of all time.
    x The Captain

    • Jackie B October 1, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Nicely done!! Which ones in particular stand out to you? I’d love to prioritize some of your favorites. 🙂

      • Captain's Quarters October 2, 2017 at 4:44 pm

        Hmmm. Out of the ones ye haven’t read yet (listed by year cause I am lazy) 1985, 1987, 1951, 1949, and 1927. Yes two of them are horse books but they are VERY different in tone. All of those are still on me shelves all these years later.
        x The Captain

        • Jackie B October 6, 2017 at 11:38 pm

          !! I haven’t read ANY of those years yet! I will definitely have to prioritize reading those if they are your favorites. And pft, you are totally welcome to adore horse books. I am still in love with Black Beauty— so, I don’t blame anyone. 😉

          • Captain's Quarters October 7, 2017 at 6:36 am

            Horses were one of me first loves back in the day before I became allergic and then was called by the sea. Black Beauty is also on me shelves forever.
            x The Captain

  • Sarah @ Reviews and Readathons October 9, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    What an undertaking!! I can’t wait to see how it goes! And read all of the reviews!

    • Jackie B October 13, 2017 at 10:01 am

      Thank you!! I am super excited. Plus, I read quite a few books in the last few years— I’d love to retroactively post my reviews for those already read books as well. It will be cool to have a list of reviews for all 100. 🙂

      Have you read any of these books?

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