John Newbery Medal Winning and Honored Books

The Newbery Medal or Honor Seal

First awarded in 1922, The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year. Virginia Hamilton, in 1975, was the first African American writer to win the medal. As of 2020, five African American writers have won the medal and 26 have been honored. Approximately a third of these honors were bestowed in the last 5 years. Learn more about this award at the ALA Website.

Below are the Newbery Winning and Honored books which were written by, or about, people of African descent.


One Book Honored with The Newbery Medal or Honor in 2002

2002 – Newbery Honor

Carver: A Life in Poems
by Marilyn Nelson

Publication Date:
List Price: $16.95
Format: Hardcover, 112 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9781886910539
Imprint: Highlights Press
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
Parent Company: Boyds Mills Press
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Read a Description of Carver: A Life in Poems


Book Description: 
George Washington Carver was born a slave in Missouri about 1864 and was raised by the childless white couple who had owned his mother. In 1877 he left home in search of an education, eventually earning a master’s degree. In 1896, Booker T. Washington invited Carver to start the agricultural department at the all-black-staffed Tuskegee Institute, where he spent the rest of his life seeking solutions to the poverty among landless black farmers by developing new uses for soil-replenishing crops such as peanuts, cowpeas, and sweet potatoes. Carver’s achievements as a botanist and inventor were balanced by his gifts as a painter, musician, and teacher. This Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book by Marilyn Nelson provides a compelling and revealing portrait of Carver’s complex, richly interior, profoundly devout life.