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The Randolph Caldecott Medal

and the Caldecott Award Winner and Honor Books Are...

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Dust Jacket Cover Art of The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, 2010 Caldecott Medal Winner

Little, Brown and Company
Cover art of children's picture book A Sick Day for Amos McGee

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, 2011 Caldecott Medal Winner

Cover art courtesy of PriceGrabber

Note: Scroll down to the end of this article for links to the current and recent Caldecott Medal winners and Honor Books.

About the Randolph Caldecott Medal

In the United States, receiving the Randolph Caldecott Medal is the highest honor an artist can achieve for children's book illustration. The Caldecott awards are administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The annual awards are announced each January during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting.

According to the ALSC,

  • "The Medal shall be awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in English in the United States during the preceding year. There are no limitations as to the character of the picture book except that the illustrations be original work. Honor Books may be named. These shall be books that are also truly distinguished."
Another requirement is that the artist must be a U.S. citizen or resident. This annual award has been presented every year since 1938.

Illustrator Randolph Caldecott

The award is named after Randolph Caldecott, a nineteenth century English illustrator who was known for his picture book illustrations. Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak who won a Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are and seven Caldecott Honors, had great admiration for Randolph Caldecott as the following two quotations from Sendak's Caldecott & Co.: Notes on Books and Pictures reveal:
  •  “Caldecott’s work heralds the beginning of the modern picture book. He devised an ingenious juxtaposition of picture and word, a counterpoint that never happened before. Words are left out-but the picture says it. Pictures are left out-but the word says it. In short, it is the invention of the picture book.”
and
  • “Caldecott is an illustrator, he is a songwriter, he is a choreographer, he is a stage manager, he is a decorator, he is a theater person; he’s superb, simply. He can take four lines of verse that have very little meaning in themselves and stretch them into a book that has tremendous meaning-not overloaded, no sentimentality anywhere.”

Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner and Honor Books

In most years, in addition to the Caldecott Medal winner, several books are designated Caldecott Honor Books for the quality of their illustrations. For Caldecott Medal winners from 1938 to 2013, see All Randolph Caldecott Medal Winners. To learn more about recent Caldecott Medal winners and Caldecott Honor Books, see:

There are many wonderful children's books on these lists, and I hope you will have the time to look over the lists and select some of these picture books to share with your children.

For more excellent books, see the directory of my personal  choices for the Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year.  While they include some Caldecott Medal winners and honorees, my lists also include numerous other terrific children's picture books published between 2008 and last year. Note that my lists are based on the year the books were published while the Caldecott and other ALA/ALSC awards are based on the year the award was given, which is one year after the publication date. That means, for example, to get an idea of some of the best illustrated picture books published in 2013, check the 2014 Caldecott list and my personal list to 10 list of the Best illustrated Children's Books of 2013.

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