Carnegie's Passion for Literature
Andrew Carnegie made his fortune by building the steel industry in the United States, and he became one of the most well-known and generous philanthropists of his time. Before his death in 1919, Carnegie founded more than 2800 libraries in the Western world, with a particular emphasis on building libraries in the United Kingdom.He was famously quoted as saying, "if ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries."
The Carnegie Medal was established in 1936 in honor of the Scottish-born entrepreneur, and the Medal is awarded annually to the best in children's literature published in the UK during the previous calendar year. The Medal is presented by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), and only books published by UK publishing houses are eligible for nomination. The Carnegie Medal is widely considered to be the British counterpart to the American Newbery Medal, and each year, the winner is presented with a trophy and £500 worth of literature to donate to a library of the author's choice.
Nominees Must Follow Strict Criteria
Even though the Carnegie Medal is awarded to authors of children?s books, the literary standards are no less arduous simply because of the age demographic. The CILIP organization outlines their criteria for considered books, and each piece of fiction should include a well-constructed plot, convincing characters, and successfully applied style. But most of all, winners of the Carnegie Medal are books that stay with the reader long after finishing the last page, and while the content may be challenging for the audience, the readers must leave with a sense of closure and pleasure. In short, these books must be just as compelling and artistic as if they were written for adults.
True to the spirit of distinguished children's and young adult's literature, the Carnegie Medal is not awarded years when the judges feel that no submitted work was suitable for such recognition. As such, the Carnegie Medal was not awarded in 1943, 1945, or 1966.
Notable Winners of the Carnegie Medal
The first winner of the Carnegie Medal was author Arthur Ransome for Pigeon Past, the sixth book in the critically acclaimed Swallows and Amazons series. For many years after it was prohibited for authors to win more than one Carnegie Medal, but since that rule changed, seven authors have gone on to win more than one Medal.Notably, there has only been one author to win both the Carnegie Medal and the Newbery Award in the same year, and that honor went to Neil Gaiman for his work, The Graveyard Book.
To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Carnegie Medal, CILIP decided to award the "Carnegie of Carnegies" Medal, and the ten nominees were chosen from the list of past Carnegie winners. Ultimately, author Philip Pullman won the illustrious award for his book Northern Lights, his well-known novel that had originally won the Carnegie Medal back in 1995.
Patrick Ness is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy. He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children's Book Award. Born in Virg... read more
The Graveyard Book is a children's fantasy novel by British-born author Neil Gaiman. The story is about a boy named Nobody Owens who, after his family is killed by a mysterious man, is subsequently adopted and raised by the occupants of an old gr... read more
Justin Case is convinced fate has in for him.And he's right.After finding his younger brother teetering on the edge of his balcony, fifteen-year-old David Case realizes the fragility of life and senses impending doom. Without looking back, he changes... read more
Terry Pratchett is Britain’s bestselling living novelist. He lives behind a keyboard in Wiltshire and says he “doesn’t want to get a life, because it feels as though he’s trying to lead three already”. He was appointed O... read more
The Other Side of Truth is a children's novel about Nigerian political refugees by Beverley Naidoo, published in 2000. A powerful story about justice and freedom of speech, it received several awards including the Carnegie Medal. The novel is set... read more
Seventeen-year-old Jacob Todd is about to discover himself. Jacob's plan is to go to Amsterdam to honor his grandfather who died during World War II. He expects to go, set flowers on his grandfather's tombstone, and explore the city. But nothing ... read more
Skellig is a children's novel by David Almond, for which Almond was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 1998 and also the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award. In 2007 it was selected by judges of the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's ... read more
An uncompromising, compelling and true-to-life story of two teenagers drawn into the dangerous and destructive world of heroin addiction. This tour de force by an acclaimed and provocative writer should become a definitive teenage novel on this subje... read more
Dear Nobody is a young adult novel by Berlie Doherty, published in 1991. Set in the northern English city of Sheffield, Dear Nobody tells the story of an unplanned teenage pregnancy and the effect it has on the teenagers and their families. The novel... read more
The Ghost Drum is a children's fantasy novel by Susan Price, first published in 1987. It is an original fairy tale using elements from Russian history and folklore, and, like many traditional tales, is full of cruelty, violence and sudden death. ... read more
Granny Was a Buffer Girl is a young adult novel by Berlie Doherty, published in 1986. The novel recounts stories of love, loyalty and change in several generations of a Sheffield family from the 1930s to the 1980s, linking them to the changing fortun... read more
The Exeter Blitz is a children's historical novel by David Rees, first published in 1978. It won the Carnegie Medal for that year. The novel is about the heavy air raid on the city of Exeter in Devon in May 1942, and its effect on the life of one... read more
The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler is a children's novel by Gene Kemp, first published in 1977. It takes place at Cricklepit Combined School, a primary school in southern England which is the setting for several other of Kemp's stories. The nov... read more
Thunder and Lightnings is a children's book, the first novel written by Jan Mark. It won the Penguin Guardian Award for a first children’s book and the Carnegie Medal for 1976. The novel tells the story of the developing friendship between two ... read more
Watership Down is an allegorical fantasy novel written by British author Richard Adams, narrating the adventures of a small group of anthropomorphized rabbits as they escape the destruction of their homeland. The story is set in England’... read more
The God Beneath the Sea is a children's novel based on Greek mythology, written by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen with illustrations by Charles Keeping. The God Beneath the Sea was awarded the 1970 Carnegie Medal, and was runner-up for the 1970... read more
The Edge of the Cloud is the second novel in the Flambards sequence by K. M. Peyton. It is set in the years prior to the First World War and has a strong backdrop of aviation as it follows the romance of Christina Parsons and Will Russell. It was awa... read more
The Moon in the Cloud is a light-hearted children's historical fantasy by Rosemary Harris, first published in 1968. The novel is set in ancient Canaan and Egypt at the time of the Biblical Flood. It was awarded the Carnegie Medal for 1968, and wa... read more
The Owl Service is a novel by Alan Garner first published in 1967. It is a contemporary interpretation, which Garner described as an "expression of the myth", of the story of the mythical Welsh figure of Blodeuwedd, whose story is told in t... read more
The Last Battle is the final book in the Narnia series. Eustace and Jill have spent many years away from Narnia, and are suddenly and violently returned to help the once glorious land face it's darkest hour. The King, a Unicorn, and ... read more
A Valley Grows Up is a history book for children written and illustrated by Edward Osmond, first published in 1953. It follows the changes in an imaginary English valley over the course of seven thousand years, from 5000 BC to 1900. It was awarded th... read more
The Borrowers is a children's fantasy novel by Mary Norton about tiny people who "borrow" things from normal humans and keep their existence unknown. The central characters are the Clock family: father Pod, mother Homily, and their spirited thirteen-... read more
Collected Stories for Children is a collection of nineteen short stories by Walter de la Mare, published in 1947. The book was awarded the Carnegie Medal for 1947, the first collection of stories to win the award, and the first time that previously p... read more
The Little Grey Men is a children's storybook by Denys Watkins-Pitchford, writing under the pseudonym “BB”. It tells the exploits of four gnomes, named after the flowers Baldmoney, Sneezewort, Dodder and Cloudberry. The Little Grey Men won BB... read more