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The Caldecott Award: Recognizing Greatness in Children's Picture Books

by Karen Gallagher
If you see a golden, circular emblem on a children’s book, then chances are you are looking at a title that has received the highly-esteemed Caldecott Medal.  Building a collection of Caldecott Medal Books will enrich a child's reading experience and appreciation for the artistic rendering of a story.
While teachers, librarians, and experts in children’s literature recognize the prestige associated with the Caldecott Medal, others may not truly understand and appreciate this highly regarded, much coveted award.


These facts about the Caldecott Medal will provide a little insight into one of the most important awards given to a children’s book:


  • The Caldecott Medal was named after a nineteenth century English illustrator named Ralph Caldecott. 
  • The Caldecott Medal is awarded once a year by the Association for Library Service to Children, part of the American Library Association.
  • The Caldecott Medal is given to the artist of the most distinguished picture book for children.
  • The artist must be an American citizen or resident.
  • Only one Caldecott Medal is awarded annually and it receives the gold medal. 
  •  There are usually a few runners-up in a given year that are granted Caldecott Honor status and receive the silver medal.
When a committee reviews books for consideration of the Caldecott Medal, the members consider both the artistic technique and the pictorial interpretation of the plot.  Keep in mind that the Caldecott Medal is not based on the written text, but the actual artistic rendering of the story.
The next opportunity you have to read a Caldecott Medal book with a child, take a few moments to really appreciate the artistic work.  You might even ask your child to tell you the story by looking at the pictures alone.  In doing so, you will both slow down and enjoy the work of art that should have a permanent spot on your child’s bookshelf.

Caldecott Medal Winners, 1938 - Present

  • 2008: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  • 2007: Flotsam by David Wiesner 
  • 2006: The Hello, Goodbye Window Illustrated by Chris Raschka, written by Norton Juster
  • 2005: Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes 
  • 2004: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
  • 2003: My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
  • 2002: The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
  • 2001: So You Want to Be President? Illustrated by David Small; text by Judith St. George
  • 2000: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  • 1999: Snowflake Bentley, Illustrated by Mary Azarian; text by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  • 1998: Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky
  • 1997: Golem by David Wisniewski
  • 1996: Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
  • 1995: Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz; text: Eve Bunting
  • 1994: Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say; text: edited by Walter Lorraine
  • 1993: Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
  • 1992: Tuesday by David Wiesner
  • 1991: Black and White by David Macaulay
  • 1990: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
  • 1989: Song and Dance Man, illustrated by Stephen Gammell; text: Karen Ackerman
  • 1988: Owl Moon, illustrated by John Schoenherr; text: Jane Yolen
  • 1987: Hey, Al, illustrated by Richard Egielski; text: Arthur Yorinks
  • 1986: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  • 1985: Saint George and the Dragon, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman; text: retold by Margaret Hodges
  • 1984: The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot by Alice & Martin Provensen
  • 1983: Shadow, translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown; original text in French: Blaise Cendrars
  • 1982: Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
  • 1981: Fables by Arnold Lobel
  • 1980: Ox-Cart Man, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: Donald Hall
  • 1979: The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
  • 1978: Noah's Ark by Peter Spier
  • 1977: Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon; text: Margaret Musgrove
  • 1976: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon; text: retold by Verna Aardema
  • 1975: Arrow to the Sun by Gerald McDermott
  • 1974: Duffy and the Devil, illustrated by Margot Zemach; retold by Harve Zemach
  • 1973: The Funny Little Woman, illustrated by Blair Lent; text: retold by Arlene Mosel
  • 1972: One Fine Day, retold and illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian
  • 1971: A Story A Story, retold and illustrated by Gail E. Haley
  • 1970: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
  • 1969: The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, illustrated by Uri Shulevitz; text: retold by Arthur Ransome
  • 1968: Drummer Hoff, illustrated by Ed Emberley; text: adapted by Barbara Emberley
  • 1967: Sam, Bangs & Moonshine by Evaline Ness
  • 1966: Always Room for One More, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian; text: Sorche Nic Leodhas, pseud. [Leclair Alger]
  • 1965: May I Bring a Friend? illustrated by Beni Montresor; text: Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
  • 1964: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • 1963: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • 1962: Once a Mouse, retold and illustrated by Marcia Brown
  • 1961: Baboushka and the Three Kings, illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov; text: Ruth Robbins
  • 1960: Nine Days to Christmas, illustrated by Marie Hall Ets; text: Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida
  • 1959: Chanticleer and the Fox, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: adapted from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales by Barbara Cooney
  • 1958: Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
  • 1957: A Tree Is Nice, illustrated by Marc Simont; text: Janice Udry
  • 1956: Frog Went A-Courtin', illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky; text: retold by John Langstaff)
  • 1955: Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper, illustrated by Marcia Brown; text: translated from Charles Perrault by Marcia Brown
  • 1954: Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • 1953: The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
  • 1952: Finders Keepers, illustrated by Nicolas, pseud. (Nicholas Mordvinoff); text: Will, pseud. [William Lipkind]
  • 1951: The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous
  • 1950: Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi
  • 1949: The Big Snow by Berta & Elmer Hader
  • 1948: White Snow, Bright Snow, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin; text: Alvin Tresselt
  • 1947: The Little Island, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard; text: Golden MacDonald, pseud. [Margaret Wise Brown]
  • 1946: The Rooster Crows by Maud & Miska Petersham
  • 1945: Prayer for a Child, illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones; text: Rachel Field
  • 1944: Many Moons, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin; text: James Thurber
  • 1943: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  • 1942: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • 1941: They Were Strong and Good, by Robert Lawson
  • 1940: Abraham Lincoln by Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire
  • 1939: Mei Li by Thomas Handforth
  • 1938: Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book, illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop; text: selected by Helen Dean Fish



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