The Caldecott Medal: “A Hasty Idea Thrown Out”

Frederic G. Melcher, 1926

As we look forward to book award ceremonies at the ALA Annual Conference this summer, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the history of one of the most prestigious children’s book awards, the Caldecott Medal. Established in 1937 to recognize the most distinguished American picture book for children, the first medal was awarded in 1938 to Dorothy P. Lathrop for the book, Animals of the Bible. However, the idea was first presented in 1935 in a letter by Frederic G. Melcher.

Melcher established the Newbery Medal in 1921 for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” While the medal was met was great enthusiasm, some felt that the award excluded books for younger children. Writing on behalf of the Association for Childhood Education, Professor May Hill Arbuthnot of Western Reserve University communicated this concern to Elizabeth Briggs, the Newbery Committee chair, in 1935. Continue reading “The Caldecott Medal: “A Hasty Idea Thrown Out””