Who we are

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children.

Our member network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers, and educational faculty is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. Learn more about ALSC »   

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The Book & Media Awards Shelf is a database-driven website that delivers information on the award-winning and Notable titles selected annually by the members of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).

ALSC’s award and media evaluation (“Notables”) programs were established to recognize exemplary media for children and to support the collection development and readers' advisory efforts of library workers serving youth, their families, and caregivers. Expanding on that tradition, the primary purpose of the Book & Media Awards Shelf is to support library workers, educators, parents, and caregivers in their search for the best books and media for children (birth to age 14). Secondarily, for historical purposes, this site serves to chronicle the complete body of winners for each of ALSC’s awards. (Children’s literature and award researchers and academics, please refer to “Award history & related research” below for more information.)

With this one-stop source, the association aims to share the work of its member committees more widely and to make this recommended media more easily accessible and useable via a user-friendly, effective platform. 

How titles are chosen

ALSC’s award and media evaluation committees annually review, discuss, and evaluate the year’s published materials intended for children, using established terms and criteria, to find the most distinguished titles produced in that year. Learn more about awards, grants, and scholarships »

Considering these winners

ALSC awards date back to 1922, when the first Newbery winners were conferred. As there are titles in this database that date back a century, please keep in mind: 

  • Older titles may be out of print and not readily available.
  • Contemporary titles are easier to obtain and more relatable for today’s young readers.
  • All award/notable titles were considered against other works published in the same year (see “How titles are chosen” above). When looking at older winners especially, please remember that they were selected, using terms and criteria*, as the best of THEIR time, not necessarily the best of ALL time.

* The ALSC Board of Directors regularly reviews and reaffirms or changes the terms, criteria, and procedures for award selection.  

Work in progress

Due to the sheer volume of titles on ALSC’s awards/notables “backlist,” it was impossible to capture all content for the initial launch of this database. Furthermore, ALSC’s digital files only go back to the mid-1990’s, so a large amount of the data was not readily available or easily transferred to the database. As time goes on, missing titles and data will be filled in.

Award Books. All ALSC award-winning and Honor Book titles are included on this site. However, some data, like genre and age level, does not appear for each and every title. Efforts were focused on providing complete data for the most contemporary, relevant titles. 

Notable Lists. The Notable Children’s Books and Recordings lists are provided here for the most recent five to ten years. Older lists will be added in time. However, for Notable Book titles prior to 1976, please refer to Notable Children's Books 1940-1970 (ALA, 1977) and Notable Children's Books, 1971-1975 (ALA, 1981). These two publications are the established sources for the early Notable Children’s Book titles.

Keys to the database

The Book & Media Awards Shelf presents titles for awards and notable lists that currently are administered by ALSC. If you have questions regarding past, discontinued awards (i.e., Carnegie Medal, Great Interactive Software for Kids, Notable Children’ Videos), please contact the ALSC office.

Current awards and notables featured on the site are:

  • Batchelder Award: Exceptional books originating in a country other than the US and in a language other than English that were subsequently translated into English and published in the US
  • Belpré Medal: Outstanding works of literature created by Latino/Latina writers and illustrators that best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience
  • Caldecott Medal: The most distinguished picture books for children
  • Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media:The most outstanding digital media for an early learning audience
  • Geisel Award: The most distinguished books for beginning readers
  • Newbery Medal: The most distinguished contributions to American literature for children
  • Notable Children’s Books:** An annual list of the best of the best children's books
  • Notable Children’s Digital Media: An annual list of the best of the best children's videos, apps, websites, and other digital products
  • Notable Children’s Recordings:** An annual list of the best of the best children's audio recordings
  • Odyssey Award: The best audiobooks produced for children and/or young adults
  • Sibert Medal: The most distinguished informational books

** Winners of ALSC book awards are automatically included on the Notable Children’s Books list. Odyssey Award winners that are appropriate for children aged 14 or younger are automatically included on the Notable Children’s Recordings list.

What’s Inside?

Each award/notable title’s landing page display includes select bibliographic information, annotation, suggested age level, genre(s), and a notation for each ALSC award the title has won. The bibliographic details provided include title, author or editor, illustrator (when different from the author), translator (if applicable), narrator (if applicable), and ISBN.

Annotations.  Annotations for each title are based on the original text written by members of the committee that chose the award/notable title.

In the case of titles that won multiple awards, the annotation that best described the story line (as opposed to focusing on the writing or illustration quality) was chosen. In a very limited number of cases, the annotation is an edited combination of multiple committees’ annotations.

For a very small number of titles, a committee annotation could not be found. In this case, the description from the Library of Congress summary was used and the source noted in the entry.

Age Level Designations.  Four general categories are used to designate the suggested age range for titles: Younger, Middle, Older, and All Ages, which loosely represent:

  • Younger – Up to Age 7 | Preschool to Grade 2
  • Middle – Ages 8-10 | Grades 3-5
  • Older – Ages 11-14 | Grades 6-8
  • All Ages – May appeal & interest children within any of the above ranges

Media created for children who fall anywhere within the age range of birth to 14 years may receive an ALSC award or Notable recognition. Parents and caregivers are encouraged always to actively engage in the selection of media with their children, as reading skills, cognitive and maturity levels, and interests vary from child to child. -- Not every winner is the right choice for every child.

Genres.  For the majority of titles in the database, genre information was gathered using Worldcat and/or Booklist Online.

Find content fast!  To help users locate content more quickly and efficiently, the database offers numerous ways to browse, including by award/notable type, author/illustrator name, genre, format, and award year.

Award history & related research

The ALSC office is not equipped to handle research questions regarding the awards. Please consult the ALA Archives or the ALA Library and Information Resource Center for research assistance.

Interested in past committees? Award committee lists can be found in old copies of the ALA Handbook of Organization or in ALA Press Releases available at https://alair.ala.org/handle/11213/80 and http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases.  

Guidelines for use and reproduction

Lists of recommended media generated via the Book & Media Awards Shelf site may be reproduced under "fair use" standards. As stated in Section 107 of The Copyright Act of 1976, factors to be considered shall include:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

Award images

The medal, honor, and notable images on this site are the intellectual property of the American Library Association and are trademarked. They cannot be used in any form or reproduced without the permission of ALA’s Rights and Permissions office. Learn more about permissions »

Additional resources