Reading Milestone: Completing the Newberys

This is a semi-challenge update…not a proper one going through all the challenge books I’ve read, though I know I missed June’s usual update (I’ll aim for getting September’s up…)  I couldn’t pass up sharing a milestone more than two and a half years in the making: I finished reading the Newbery Medal winners this week.

When I started this goal at the beginning of 2016, I had already read (some time over my lifetime) 32 of the then-94 total Newbery Medal winners.  I read 22 in 2016, 20 in 2017, and 22 in 2018, including the two new winners added since I started.

The first one I read for the challenge was the surprisingly upbeat Number the Stars by the very reliable Lois Lowry (1990), and the last was the rather dated Daniel Boone by James Daughtery (1939).

The most intimidating (but unexpectedly engaging on audio) was The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (1922), the very first winner.

There’s a stereotype that Newbery Medal winners are tragic, which I can’t agree with.  Some yes, but not most.  There were even some animal ones where the animal survived, and not every wise mentor died by the end.  Still, the saddest was Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (2005) and the grimmest (not quite the same thing) was Sounder by William H. Armstrong (1970), although Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko) reading the audiobook helped.

On the other hand, I can’t say that any stand out as particularly funny (though some are more light-hearted), which seems unfortunate.

The book that took the most effort was The High King by Lloyd Alexander (1969), because it’s Book Five in a series and I read all the others first.

A lot of the books were good–and a lot were not, at least to my taste!  I can’t seem to pick a least favorite, because there were probably a dozen that were about equally so-so.  My favorite is The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (2017), which wasn’t even on the list when I started.

Since beginning this challenge, I met my now-husband, got married and moved.  The world went through some upheavals, I published one novel, completed NanoWriMo twice and finished a draft of my Phantom of the Opera trilogy.  So in many ways, this challenge began in a different lifetime entirely…

I don’t exactly feel, now that I’ve finished, that I took a trip through the best contributions to children’s literature since 1922.  It wasn’t a (not very) secret gold mine of excellent children’s fiction.  However, there is something very satisfying about completing a survey through…well, what has at least been considered the best contributions to children’s literature.  Many of them are famous ones, and it’s satisfying too to be able to look at titles I’ve heard for twenty years and feel that I finally have an acquaintanceship with the book behind it.

I’m curious about other people multi-year reading challenges.  Does it feel strange to finish something so lengthy?  Were you satisfied with the reading in the end?

3 thoughts on “Reading Milestone: Completing the Newberys

  1. I’ve always admired that you were reading the Newberys. Most of them seem dire to me, judging from their blurbs. I do get to read them occasionally when the Goodreads Good Middle Grade Reads picks on as their Book of the Month, so I too enjoyed The Girl who Drank the Moon, and The Giver (did it win?) . But I couldn’t get through all those other ones.

    I am doing a ten-year challenge to read 50 non-fiction books. At only 5 a year it’s not onerous, and some of them creep up on me by surprise. I still have to read two more this year, and I’m only on my second year. So I’ll tell you what I thought in 2027!

  2. Some comments on your post: 1) You are very thorough to read all five books in a series in order to get to the Newberry winner (The High King). 2) You have really done a lot and had a lot of life changes since starting this challenge – but you kept with it. Impressive! 3) I have never tried a reading challenge like yours. The most I’ve done is set a goal of number of books to read in a year and see if I can reach it. My goal for this year is 60 and I expect to get there.

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