John Newbery: The Man Behind the Medal

Fourth grade is learning about the life of John Newbery!  Born to a farmer in England in 1713, Newbery would later learn the trade of a printer.  This experience would serve him well when, in 1744, he and his wife and five children moved to London so that he could start his own publishing business.  Newbery noticed the need for more books written for children in a style that would integrate education with play.  As such, his first book, A Pretty Little Pocketbook, was a big hit among parents and children alike.

Over the course of his lifetime, Newbery wrote and published hundreds of books for children and helped address a need for children’s literature.  In 1921, Frederic Melcher named the Newbery Medal in honor of this man.  Today, the Newbery Medal, according to the American Library Association, is the “best known and most discussed children’s book award in this country.”

Visit to learn more about the medal and view a list of all Newbery Medal winning books since 1922.

See how many Newbery Medal books you’ve read and which ones you and your child would like to check out!

This year’s winner is Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.

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