Selector: Steven Remenapp and Richard Buboltz
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
Randolph Caldecott was one of a group of three influential children's illustrators working in England in the 19th century. The other two illustrators were Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane. His illustrations for children were unique to their time in both their humor, and their ability to create a sense of movement, vitality, and action that complemented the stories they accompanied.
The illustration on the Caldecott Medal, which is taken from Caldecott's illustrations for "The Diverting Story of John Gilpin," is a perfect example of the humor, vitality, and sense of movement found in Caldecott's work. The illustration shows John Gilpin astride a runaway horse, accompanied by squawking geese, braying dogs, and startled onlookers.
Each year the Newbery Medal is awarded by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children's books published the previous year. However, as many persons became concerned that the artists creating picture books for children were as deserving of honor and encouragement as were the authors of children's books, Frederic G. Melcher suggested in 1937 the establishment of a second annual medal. This medal is to be given to the artist who had created the most distinguished picture book of the year and named in honor of the nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott. The idea for this medal was also accepted enthusiastically by the Section for Library Work with Children of ALA and was approved by the ALA Executive Board.
The Caldecott Medal "shall be awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year. The award shall go to the artist, who must be a citizen or resident of the United States, whether or not he be the author of the text. Members of the Newbery Medal Committee will serve as judges. If a book of the year is nominated for both the Newbery and Caldecott Awards the committee shall decide under which heading it shall be voted upon, so that the same title shall not be considered on both ballots." In 1977 the Board of Directors of the Association for Library Service to Children rescinded the final part of the 1937 action and approved that "any book published in the preceding year shall be eligible to be considered for either award or both awards." Separate committees to choose the Newbery and Caldecott Awards were established in 1978 and began with the 1980 selection committees.
From the beginning of the awarding of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, committees could, and usually did, cite other books as worthy of attention. Such books were referred to as Newbery or Caldecott "runners-up." In 1971 the term "runners-up" was changed to "honor books." The new terminology was made retroactive so that all former runners-up are now referred to as Newbery or Caldecott Honor Books.
Wayne State University Libraries have a number of resources for anyone interested in children's books. We have open and special collections, online resources, and research guides to help you find what you need.
Our collections of children's books include the Ramsey Collection, the Millicent A. Wills Collection of Urban Ethnic Materials, the William Alfred Boyce Storytelling Collection, the Mildred Jeffrey Collection of Peace and Conflict Resolution, and general collections of picture books, juvenile fiction, juvenile nonfiction, and juvenile biography.
The Ramsey Collection is a closed collection of rare books and periodicals related to children's literature from the late 18th century to the present. Whenever possible, recent acquisitions to the collection have been duplicated in the circulating juvenile collection. Items are not available for checkout, but can be requested for in-library viewing. Many of the books are also in the process of being digitized; check out the digital collection here.
All of the other collections are located on the fourth floor of the Purdy Library.
There are many journals that focus on children's literature. Click the links to browse and search them.
These journals are peer-reviewed.
For more information on Children's Literature please check out these research guides.
The Caldecott Medal was established and first awarded in 1938.
Every year at the American Library Association's annual conference authors and illustrators are honored at the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Awards Banquet. Winners deliver speeches to the audience, which are then collected. Below are videos and books of those speeches.
The video speeches are more recent; older speeches can be found in journals and text collections.
From Neil Gaiman, winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal:
This speech, and many more, can be found in: