Newbery winners by age appropriateness, newbery winners by grade

Newbery Winners by Grade Appropriateness!

I remember when I handed my daughter The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo when she was in third grade. We had just enjoyed Because of Winn Dixie together by the same author and The Tiger Rising seemed perfect from the quick cover once over. The chapter book was short, with biggish text inside.

A few days later, my daughter asks if she can please stop reading.

“Why?” I asked her.

“It’s too sad,” she replied.

I took the book from her and read the first few chapters. I was horrified to find out that this was a Grapes of Wrath level of sad kind of story. Not that this book isn’t wonderful or beautifully written but it was just too sad for an 8-year-old to bear.

After that I started reading ahead to screen all her books for her. And then I started this blog. I guess if I had this list, I wouldn’t be blogging!

I have added one asterisk to the books that I’ve read and liked it and two asterisks for books I read and loved.  I also think that you can go up a grade or even two for these books but I would not necessarily go down.


Newbery Books by Age Appropriateness

2013: The One and Only Ivan (Grade 3) **

2012: Dead End in Norvelt (Grade 5) *

2011: Moon Over Manifest (Grade 4) **

2010: When You Reach Me (Grade 5) **

2009: The Graveyard Book (Grade 4)

2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (Grade 5)

2007: The Higher Power of Lucky (Grade 4) *

2006: Criss Cross (Grade 4)

2005: Kira-Kira (Grade 5) **

2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread (Grade 4)

2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Grade 5)

2002: Single Shard, A (Grade 6) ** (Historical fiction set in 15th Century Korea)

2001: Year Down Yonder, A (Grade 4)** (a funny book set in rural mid-west during Great Depression, and, yet not depressing at all)

2000: Bud, Not Buddy (Grade 5) **

1999: Holes (Grade 4) ** — Boston Public Library set this as Middle School read.  Good choice for reluctant boy readers.

1998: Out of the Dust (Grade 5) – Content is intense.  I’d personally set as Middle School.  Very tragic story!

1997: View from Saturday, The (Grade 5) **

1996: Midwife’s Apprentice, The (Grade 6)

1995: Walk Two Moons (Grade 4)**

1994: The Giver (Grade 6) ** (required reading for our 6th grade middle school)

1993: Missing May (Grade 5) *

1992: Shiloh (Grade 4) **

1991: Maniac Magee (Grade 4) **

1990: Number the Stars (Grade 4) **

1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography (Grade 4)

1987: Whipping Boy, The (Grade 3)

1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall (Grade 3) *

1985: Hero and the Crown, The (Grade 7)

1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw (Grade 4) **

1983: Dicey’s Song (Grade 5)

1982: Visit to William Blake’s Inn, A: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers (Grade 4)

1981: Jacob Have I Loved (Grade 5) **

1980: Gathering of Days, A: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 (Grade 6)

1979: Westing Game, The (Grade 6) **

1978: Bridge to Terabithia (Grade 5) **

1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Grade 5)*

1976: The Grey King (Grade 6) ** This is The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper.  Read it in order.

1975: M. C. Higgins, the Great (Grade 4) *

1974: The Slave Dancer (Grade 6)

1973: Julie of the Wolves (Grade 5) **

1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Grade 5) **

1971: Summer of the Swans (Grade 4) *

1970: Sounder (Grade 5) *

1969: High King, The (Grade 6) ** This The Chronicles of Prydain by Alexander Lloyd series.  Read it in order.

1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Grade 4) **

1967: Up a Road Slowly (Grade 6)

1966: I, Juan de Pareja (Grade 6) *

1965: Shadow of a Bull (Grade 5)

1964: It’s Like This, Cat (Grade 4) **

1963: Wrinkle in Time, A (Grade 4) **

1962: The Bronze Bow (Grade 5) *

1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins (Grade 5)**

1960: Onion John (Grade 4)

1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Grade 5) **

1958: Rifles for Watie (Grade 6)

1957: Miracles on Maple Hill (Grade 4)

1956: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Grade 4)

1955: The Wheel on the School (Grade 4)

1954: …And Now Miguel (Grade 4)

1953: Secret of the Andes (Grade 4)

1952: Ginger Pye (Grade 6) *

1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man (Grade 6)

1950: The Door in the Wall (Grade 6) *

1949: King of the Wind (Grade 5) *

1948: The Twenty-One Balloons (Grade 6)

1947: Miss Hickory (Grade 5)

1946: Strawberry Girl (Grade 4) **

1945: Rabbit Hill (Grade 6) *

1944: Johnny Tremain (Grade 5) **

1943: Adam of the Road (Grade 6) *

1942: The Matchlock Gun (Grade 5)

1941: Call It Courage (Grade 6) * – A little sad.

1940: Daniel Boone

1939: Thimble Summer (Grade 5) **

1938: The White Stag (Grade 6)

1937: Roller Skates (Grade 6)

1936: Caddie Woodlawn (Grade 6) **

1935: Dobry (Grade 5)

1934: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women (Grade 8)

1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze (Grade 6)

1932: Waterless Mountain (Grade 5)

1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven (Grade 5) * – The story is short and reads like a fable.  My 2nd grader was able to read it.

1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years (Grade 7)

1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow (Grade 7)

1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon (Grade 6)

1927: Smoky, the Cow Horse (Grade 6)

1926: Shen of the Sea (Grade 5)

1925: Tales from Silver Lands (Grade 6)

1924: The Dark Frigate (Grade 6)

1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (Grade 5)

1922: The Story of Mankind (Grade 9)

To purchase any book through Amazon, please click on the image of the book. I’m an affiliate!

Newbery winners by age appropriateness, newbery winners by grade

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Bonnie/LadyBlogger

    Thank you (again) for such a wonderful post! I have pinned this to my “reading” and “parenting” boards on Pinterest. Too often parents have no idea what quality books are!

  2. April

    Thanks! This is a great list. Right now, I use the Battle of the Books list to help give my son variety in his reading. We’re about a third through. After that, we’ll attack this! Thanks for sharing and linking up with Countdown in Style! Don’t forget to come back on Friday to see if you were featured!

    April recently posted…Have a Paleogasm in the Middle of the DayMy Profile

  3. Brittnei

    You make an awesome point about screening books before we give them to our children to read. I find that to be true with TV as well. They might say something is TV14 but I look at some of that stuff and I say to myself, I wouldn’t want my 14 year old watching this! Thanks for sharing with us at Countdown in Style! Don’t forget to stop by to see if you are featured on Friday! xo
    Brittnei recently posted…Countdown In Style- Week 5My Profile

  4. Saw you at the Fairy and the Frog linky. Thanks for this awesome resource, I am going to pin it!

    I try to read lots and lots of kid’s novels so that I have an idea of what age/maturity they will be suitable for.
    TheBargainBabe recently posted…30 Ways to Encourage New MomsMy Profile

    • Hi The Bargain Babe,
      I’m so glad that you also needed a list like this! I didn’t realize when my kids were younger what a wide age range a Newbery book can be for. I just assumed it was a great book for ages 9 and up but that’s not really true exactly. Sometimes the plot is too complicated, or the story line is too intense, or the book is simply really long and difficult to read. They are all still great books but just not one size fits all as I had thought.

      Thank you so much for pinning it!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Books for Kids To Celebrate MLK DayMy Profile

  5. Great list! As I scrolled further down and still further down I started to see some of my old favorites as a kid – Dicey’s Song still sits with me because it was the first time I read a book by an author, then read every book by that author because I loved it. I can’t wait until my girls are old enough for these.
    Kathleen Scott recently posted…The Winter Garden at UNCCMy Profile

    • Hi Kathleen,
      I just now looked up Dicey’s Song because I never read it and now realize that I have never read any books by Cynthia Voight (which makes me think of Jon Voight and then Angeline Joie but I’m sure they are not related?!). I will have to check her books out! Thanks so much for the great rec!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Books for Kids To Celebrate MLK DayMy Profile

  6. Great post and what a nice walk down memory lane. I hadm’t realized how many Newbery winners I have read over the years growing up and with my Kiddo as she grew. What fun!
    Alex Baugh recently posted…Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Hoda HadadiMy Profile

    • Hi Alex,
      And I have the opposite reaction: I didn’t realize how FEW Newbery winners I have read. I really want to read more of them! I try to read the Newbery winner every year but that’s only since my kids started reading Newbery level books. There’s a huge gap in between when I missed a ton of good ones!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Books for Kids To Celebrate MLK DayMy Profile

  7. What a fantastic resource! When I was a bookseller we kept all of the Newbery novels in a section labelled “Independent Reader” which is targeted for ages 9-12. But with a four year age range like that, most parents need a lot more guidance. Especially when looking at two books from the same author! Lois Lowry is a great example of this – “Number the Stars” is appropriate for much younger readers than “The Giver” but they are usually right next to each other on the shelf!
    I transitioned to blogging after years of hand-selling books to parents and kids in a store every day, so seeing a post like this makes me so happy. 🙂
    Katie recently posted…Kid Lit Blog Hop #30My Profile

    • Hi Katie,
      Thanks so much! It was challenging for me to hand the correct books to my kids, especially off the Newbery list. I wanted my kids to read them but I didn’t realize until too late, that I needed to screen them carefully. Your example of Number the Stars versus The Giver really hits home! My daughter read and loved Number the Stars in 5th grade but I wouldn’t have guessed that a Holocaust themed book would be fine for her at the age so it was fortunate that her teacher recommended to us during a parent teacher conference after I told her I was struggling to find realistic fiction and historical fiction books for her (since she is so picky!). And The Giver is required reading for 6th grade. That one year makes all the difference! I don’t think PickyKidPix would have read or enjoyed The Giver in 5th grade, especially early in the school year. 6 months can make all the difference.

      PickyKidPix tried to read The Westing House at the beginning of 5th grade but gave up because she just got too confused by all the subplots from the myriad of characters. She just couldn’t keep the characters straight and I can see why. Her teacher said to try again in 6 months but she never did. Timing is everything.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Johnson and Johnson Twitter Party with PrizesMy Profile

  8. I, too, LOVED Dicey’s Song and read a number of others by Cynthia Voight, but she has a ton of them and I haven’t read them all.
    Many favorites of mine on the list from when I was a kid and also today. But some I have never heard of.
    Thanks for putting together this list.

  9. Renee @ MDBR

    Oh my goodness, what an amazing list! Pinning!!! Have you read The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. I think me and both my kids were depressed throughout the whole story. I think all her books are a bit like that. I felt the same way when I read The One and Only Ivan – that was just heart-wrenching. Wow! So many great choices! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop!
    Renee recently posted…Guest Post: Top Five Upcoming Children’s Books to Read in 2014My Profile

  10. I always love your book recommendation and am thrilled there are so many for 4th graders. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Great idea to list them my age appropriateness. Thanks for joining in the parenting pin it party.

  12. I pinned this! I loved looking through these books and remembering those I read as a child. My daughter and I love the Visit to William Blakes Inn. The poems are great to lull a child to sleep. For the younger child, the words seems like nonsense but very musical.
    Jenny recently posted…Girls Rock! Tales of a RockhoundMy Profile

  13. This list is so useful for parents! I included it and a number of other lists you\\\\\\\’ve shared at After School in a round up today.

  14. Love this list. I think its so important to know how the books fare based on maturity level of kids. This list definitely helps. Thanks for sharing Mia.
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks
    Reshama recently posted…Newbery Medal 2014My Profile

  15. Interesting to see the grade levels–how did you determine them? A friend of mine on livejournal did a read-through of all the Newberies to date; she did in-depth reviews of some, and after she was finished analyzed them for proportion of male to female protagonists, protagonists of color, types of literature, etc. It was a fascinating project, gathered under the tag “newbery books” at osprey_archer (dot) livejournal (dot) com.
    Asakiyume recently posted…Terms of ServiceMy Profile

    • Hi Asakiyume,
      Well…I found a old list that had the books by grade but it was 10 years old so I added the new ones since I had read them with my kids and made up the age myself. Then I adjusted the list based on the books I had read gauging what I’d have given to my kids (or that they had read). So, it’s a work in progress! It wasn’t as thorough as your friend’s!!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…2014 Newbery, Caldecott, Printz Awards and More!My Profile

  16. Love this list! I’m going to recommend your blog post to other teachers at the private school where I taught. It’s a great resource–thank you!
    Kate recently posted…Think with Your Heart–Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen FoxleeMy Profile

  17. Thanks, Pragmatic Mom, for taking the time to sort out these fabulous books! All too often, books are categorized by reading level rather than content level. Thanks for sharing on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Cheryl, Hop Hostess

  18. Tasha

    Thank you so much for putting this list together!! At this time, I won’t be purchasing any of them because I like perusing our library, lol. However, if I do end up purchasing (because sometimes we love them soooo much we want our own copies), I’ll do your affiliate! I think that when people take the time to put together something extremely helpful, they deserve a kick-back! 🙂

  19. This a great list I want to remember. Haven’t read them all. But, I like that the grade level is shown. When I review a book, I always indicate the age and use of language, especially MG.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder and GratitudeMy Profile

    • Hi Patricia,
      It’s so helpful that you do that. It is amazing how much of a difference six months can make for elementary school age kids in terms of what they are able and interested in reading! My daughter, when she was in the beginning 4th grade, tried The Westing Games. She was 3/4 though before she gave up. It was just too complicated a plot with too many characters for her to keep track of. Her teacher said to try again in 6 months but she never did. But I think if she tried at the end of 4th grade, she would have made it to the end of the book.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…My Son’s First Fencing LessonMy Profile

  20. Lists like this can be helpful. Those where you shared topics are even more so. I think it is important for parents to preview or read along with their children.

    A few of these my daughter read at a younger age than you indicated. An voracious reader, she loved books she could discuss with adults.
    JoAnn Jordan recently posted…Music to encourage elders to walkMy Profile

  21. I love this list! Mainly because I am planning on teaching Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh and was glad to see it on your list for 5th grade.
    Virginia Ayers recently posted…Zombies are coming!My Profile

  22. Debbie

    Very good list, but I didn’t see where you got the information about age appropriateness. How did you determine that?

  23. This list is sooo helpful for new school librarians such as myself!
    Ingrid recently posted…Bibliotherapy: the good, the bad & the uglyMy Profile

  24. This is such a helpful list Mia. A few years ago as a classroom teacher, I made it a personal mission to start reading all the Newberry winners – and I\\\’ve been really enjoying them. This year I am working as the school Librarian and am constantly asked for recommendations by kids and teachers – I\\\’ll be referring to this list often! Thanks!

  25. What are the asterisks at the end of the titles for?

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