It was “the greatest book club you can ever imagine,” John Scott says about getting the chance to serve on the 2016 Newbery Medal committee. Scott has been a librarian at Friends School of Baltimore for the past 12 years.
Each year, the American Library Association gives the John Newbery Medal to one outstanding children’s book. First awarded in 1922, the Newbery Medal is the oldest and one of the most distinguished children’s writing prizes in the country.
In the 2016, the year that Scott served as a judge, the selection committee made history by choosing Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña. This was the first time a Latino author received the prize and the first time it was awarded to a picture book and not a novel.
“Thematically, it was such a great message,” Scott says. “It encourages us to witness the beauty around us. Every one of the words was spot on.”
Fifteen people serve on the selection committee and each one recommended seven books for consideration. Then the committee met for a weekend of discussion and debate about each title until finally they were ready to vote for a winner and finalists. The process was like earning “another master’s degree right there,” Scott says, but well worth it.
“As a children’s librarian you have these dreams that you will one day serve on this committee,” Scott says.
To find out more about the Newbery Medal and its counterpart, the Caldecott Medal for picture books, visit their homepage.