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 2021, five African American writers have won the medal and 27 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 2005

2005 – Newbery Honor

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights
by Russell Freedman

Publication Date:
List Price: $18.00
Format: Hardcover, 128 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9780618159765
Imprint: Clarion Books
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Parent Company: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Read a Description of The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights


Book Description: 
”A voice like yours,” celebrated conductor Arturo Toscanini told contralto Marian Anderson, “is heard once in a hundred years.” This insightful account of the great African American vocalist considers her life and musical career in the context of the history of civil rights in this country. Drawing on Anderson’s own writings and other contemporary accounts, Russell Freedman shows readers a singer pursuing her art despite the social constraints that limited the careers of black performers in the 1920s and 1930s. Though not a crusader or a spokesperson by nature, Marian Anderson came to stand for all black artists — and for all Americans of color — when, with the help of such prominent figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, she gave her landmark 1939 performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which signaled the end of segregation in the arts.Carefully researched, expertly told, and profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs, this Newbery Honor and Sibert Medal-winning book is a moving account of the life of a talented and determined artist who left her mark on musical and social history. Through her story, Newbery Medal-winning author Russell Freedman, one of today’s leading authors of nonfiction for young readers, illuminates the social and political climate of the day and an important chapter in American history. Notes, bibliography, discography, index.