Problematic Award-Winning Texts: Daniel Boone, the Newbery Award, and Children’s Librarianship

09/28/2021 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Problematic Award-Winning Texts: Daniel Boone, the Newbery Award, and Children’s Librarianship

Tuesday, 9/28/2021
  • 12:00 PM-1:00 PM (Eastern)

According to Melanie D. Koss and Kathleen A. Paciga, “Newbery Medal winners rarely go out of print… since its inception, only one book is currently out of print, Daniel Boone by James Daugherty (1939), due to extreme racism and perpetuation of stereotypes” (2020).* But after 100 years, are all the Newbery titles still relevant to today’s young readers? Should librarians continue to keep Newbery award-winners as part of their collection, no matter how old they are? What do we do with Doctor Dolittle?

In a panel discussion, Dr. Rob Bittner (LGBTQ Youth Literature Specialist), Megan Schliesman (Cooperative Children’s Book Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison), Dr. Junko Yokota (Center for Teaching through Children’s Books at National Louis University) and moderator Edith Campbell (Indiana State University) discuss the myriad issues at play with the Newbery and its (sometimes not too bright) legacy: the lasting impact of the medal on the dissemination of a text and its continued place in cultural conversation and on a publisher’s backlist; the role of the medal as a contemporary signifier in children’s literature; and the impact of the medal on the day-to-day issues for those serving children and families in libraries, including collection development and audits. The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A.

*Koss, Melanie D. and Kathleen A. Paciga. “Diversity in Newbery Medal-Winning Titles: A Content Analysis.” Journal of Language and Literacy Education 16.2 (2020)

Learning Outcomes

Participants will:

  • Identify the impact of the Newbery Medal in current children’s literature community.
  • Describe ongoing concerns regarding problematic award-winning children’s books and media.
  • Determine ways that problematic award-winning texts may impact the participant’s work and professional decisions.

This webinar meets the following ALSC Core Competencies:

  • Demonstrates respect for diversity and inclusion of cultural values, and continually develops cultural awareness and works to address implicit bias in order to provide inclusive and equitable service to diverse populations. (1.1)
  • Assesses and responds on a regular and systemic basis to the needs and preferences of children, their caregivers, educators, and other adults who use the resources of the children’s department, including those unserved and underserved by the library. (1.6)
  • Understands and applies criteria for evaluating the content, artistic merit, and cultural authenticity of children’s materials in all genres and formats. (4.5)
  • Stays informed of current trends, emerging technologies, issues, and research in librarianship, child development, early and family literacy, education, and allied fields. (7.2)

Who Should Attend

Anyone serving children or families in libraries, or making determinations on book purchases or programming as relates to children and literacy, including librarians, administrators, and educators.


Dr. Robert Bittner is a children’s and youth literature specialist, working as a lecturer and consultant from his home in Vancouver, BC. He has served on the Newbery, Printz, Stonewall, and Children’s Literature Legacy award committees, and is the chair of the 2023 Caldecott committee. Robert works mainly with LGBTQ+ representation in literatures, but reads many genres and formats as a reviewer for Booklist Magazine. Find out more on his website:

Edith Campbell is an Associate Education Librarian in the Cunningham Memorial Library at Indiana State University. She has served on the Printz Award Committee, the Sibert Medal for Information Text Award Committee, We Need Diverse Book’s Walter Award Committee, and is currently on the ALAN Walden Award Committee. She is currently researching the representation of anthropomorphic simians in picture books and the implementation of critical literacy practices in libraries. Edith blogs to promote literacy and social justice in young adult literature on her blog, CrazyQuiltsEdi, and on Twitter @crazyquilts

Megan Schliesman is a librarian at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she coauthors the annual CCBC Choices publication and manages the library’s Intellectual Freedom Information Services. She served on the 2005 Newbery Award Committee, chaired the 2011 Children’s Literature Legacy Award Committee, and has served on the ALSC board and several committees/task forces. Megan has written about both intellectual freedom and diversity in youth literature for the CCBC and for the Reading While White blog.

Dr. Junko Yokota* is the Director of the Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books and a Professor Emeritus of Reading & Language at National Louis University. She has served on the Caldecott and Newbery Award committees, chaired the Batchelder Award committee, and served two terms on the IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Award for Contribution to Multicultural Literature, Reading the World Award. Junko’s work focuses on multicultural and international literature and literacy instruction, and she is an active participant in the international literature community.

*awaiting speaker agreement



This webinar is available free, both live and on-demand, as part of the ALSC #Newbery100 Celebration!

You can find #Newbery100 merchandise, including exclusive illustrations from Newbery Medal and Honor recipients Cece Bell, Jerry Craft, Kevin Henkes, Victoria Jamieson, and Grace Lin, here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Newbery and its history, consider signing up for the Winter 2022 course “The Newbery Medal: Past, Present and Future” with KT Horning. More information, including a registration link, is coming soon!

How to Register


Tech Requirements

computer, internet