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.
In 1937 René Paul Chambellan designed the Caldecott Medal. The bronze medal has the winner's name and the date engraved on the back. When the Caldecott Medal was accepted in 1937, the Section for Library Work with Children invited the School Libraries Section to name five of its members to the awards committee each year. For this reason the Caldecott Medal inscription reads, "Awarded annually by the Children's and School Librarians Sections of the American Library Association." This is a combination and simplification of the actual names of the sections. The wording continues even though several ALA reorganizations resulted in 1958 in the present divisions, including the Children's Services Division, now the Association for Library Service to Children, which now has sole responsibility for administering the award.
How the Caldecott Medal Came to Be
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.
A few words about Randolph Caldecott and his illustrations...
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.
In his wordless picture book, A Ball for Daisy, Chris Raschka brings us the touching story of a frisky dog with a very special toy. Through his amazing watercolor illustrations, Raschka evokes the universal feelings experienced when we lose something important to us, and when we find a new friend! Allow your child to tell you the story in their own words, and this is sure to become your family's new favorite! Meet the author of this book on Saturday, April 27th, as he signs his newes… read more »
Amos McGee gets up early every morning, excited to get to his job at the zoo. While at the zoo, he is able to spend time with all of his friends--the tortoise he runs races with, the owl he reads to, and many others. One day, Amos is sick and can't go to work. Instead, his animal friends make a visit to his house to keep him company. This book is beautifully illustrated and will delight both kids and adults.… read more »
Trixie, Daddy, and Knuffle Bunny take a trip to the neighborhood Laundromat. But the exciting adventure takes a dramatic turn when Trixie realizes somebunny was left behind - Using a combination of muted black-and-white photographs and expressive illustrations, this stunning book tells a brilliantly true-to-life tale about what happens when Daddy's in charge and things go terribly, hilariously wrong. A Caldecott Honor Book!… read more »
Set in picturesque Paris, this tale of a brave little girl's trip to the hospital is as appealing today as it was in 1940. The combination of spirited heroine, timelessly appealing art, cheerful humor, and rhythmic text makes "Madeline" a perennial favorite with children of all ages. … read more »
Deep in the sea there lives a happy school of little fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger. With its graceful text and stunning artwork, this Caldecott Honor Book deserves a place on every child’s shelf. … read more »