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California Young Reader Medal facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

The California Young Reader Medal is a set of five annual literary awards conferred upon picture books and fiction books selected by vote of California schoolchildren from a ballot prepared by committee. The program was established in 1974 with Intermediate, Primary, and Young Adult Medals that were inaugurated in 1975, 1976, and 1977 and were conferred biennially, and annually beginning in 1983.

The program is intended to encourage recreational reading and is sponsored by four organizations that promote reading and literacy: the California Association of Teachers of English, the California Library Association, the California Reading Association, and the California School Library Association.

There are five medals, last modified for 2002: Primary (grades K-3), Intermediate (grades 3–6), Middle School/Junior High (grades 6–9), Young Adult (grades 9–12), and Picture Books for Older Readers (grades 4 and up)—that is, roughly age 10 and up. Both writer and illustrator receive the Primary and Picture Book Medals, where applicable.

The ballot for each medal comprises 3–5 books published during the preceding four years—two to five years ago when the process concludes. For example, 17 books published from 2010 to 2013 were nominated for 2014–2015.

Rules and process

Young readers, their parents, educators, librarians, and "anyone who works with young people" may recommend books. Candidates must be original works of fiction by living authors, available in English, published during the four preceding years and still in print.

Nominations are made by award category and the books should be "often read or requested" and have "strong appeal for the age group". A committee of the sponsoring organizations selects "a well-balanced list of nominees" (finalists), considering merit and appeal.

Children may vote in all categories where they know all of the candidates by reading or hearing read aloud. They cast a combined paper ballot at once, in a classroom or library monitored by an adult.

Current rendition

The winners of 2016 Medals were announced May 1 and scheduled for presentation separately at the next annual meetings of the sponsoring organizations.

The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Philomel, 2013.
A Dog Called Homeless, by Sarah Lean. Katherine Tegen Books, 2012.
Middle School/Junior High
Dogtag Summer, by Elizabeth Partridge. Bloomsbury USA, 2011.
Young Adult
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. Feiwel & Friends, 2012.
Picture Books for Older Readers
Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares. Disney-Hyperion, 2012.

Nominees for 2016–2017 are in effect, ballots for the 2017 medals were announced in February, and voting is open for fourteen months, until April 1, 2017 (the same day recommendations for 2018 medals are due).


The medals in four categories inaugurated in 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1980 were biennial until 1983, and thereafter annual. For each category (now five) CYRM maintains a "Booklist" of finalists (3–5 annually) that provides basic bibliographic data for all, and cover images beginning in 2005 or so.



Intermediate: How to Eat Fried Worms, by Thomas Rockwell


Primary: How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head, by Bill Peet


Intermediate: Freaky Friday, by Mary Rodgers
Young Adult: Watership Down, by Richard Adams


Primary: Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth, written by Lucy Bate, illustrated by Diane de Groat


Intermediate: Danny, the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl
Young Adult: The Late Great Me, by Sandra Scoppettone



Primary: Big Bad Bruce, by Bill Peet
Middle School/Junior High: The Pinballs, by Betsy Byars


Intermediate: Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls
Young Adult: A Summer to Die, by Lois Lowry


Primary: Miss Nelson is Missing, written by Harry Allard, illustrated by James Marshall
Middle School/Junior High: Hail, Hail Camp Timberwood, by Ellen Conford


Primary: Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp, by Mercer Mayer
Intermediate: Superfudge, by Judy Blume
Middle School/Junior High: Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
Young Adult: Summer of Fear, by Lois Duncan


Primary: Bagdad Ate It, written by Phyllis Green, illustrated by Joel Schick
Intermediate: The Trouble with Tuck, by Theodore Taylor
Middle School/Junior High: There's a Bat in Bunk Five, by Paula Danziger
Young Adult: Stranger with My Face, by Lois Duncan


Primary: Herbie's Troubles, written by Carol Chapman, illustrated by Kelly Oechsli
Intermediate: The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks
Middle School/Junior High: Taking Terri Mueller, by Norma Fox Mazer
Young Adult: The Truth Trap, by Frances Miller


Primary: Space Case, written by Edward Marshall, illustrated by James Marshall
Intermediate: Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade, by Barthe DeClements
Middle School/Junior High: Girl with the Silver Eyes, by Willo Davis Roberts
Young Adult: The Darkangel, by Meredith Pierce

Beginning in 1987, the illustrators of Primary Award-winning books have officially received full recognition alongside the writers.


Primary: The Napping House, written by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood
Intermediate: The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Ren Wright
Middle School/Junior High: You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye, by Patricia Hermes
Young Adult: Pursuit, by Michael French


Primary: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, written by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
Intermediate: Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days, by Stephen Manes
Middle School/Junior High: The Root Cellar, by Janet Lunn
Young Adult, Interstellar Pig, by William Sleator


Primary: What Happened to Patrick's Dinosaurs?, written by Carol Carrick, illustrated by Donald Carrick
Intermediate: The Castle in the Attic, by Elizabeth Winthrop
Middle School/Junior High: The Stalker, by Joan Lowery Nixon
Young Adult: The Face at the Edge of the World, by Eve Bunting



Primary: Eyes of the Dragon, written by Margaret Leaf, illustrated by Ed Young
Intermediate: The War with Grandpa, by Robert Kimmel Smith
Middle School/Junior High: The Other Side of Dark, by Joan Lowery Nixon
Young Adult: Izzy, Willy Nilly, by Cynthia Voigt


Primary: Tacky the Penguin, written by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn M. Munsinger
Intermediate: Harry's Mad, by Dick King-Smith
Middle School/Junior High: December Stillness, by Mary Downing Hahn
Young Adult: Night Kites, by M.E. Kerr


Primary: Never Spit on Your Shoes, by Denys Cazet
Intermediate: All About Sam, by Lois Lowry
Middle School/Junior High: Sniper, by Theodore Taylor
Young Adult: A Sudden Silence, by Eve Bunting


Primary: Julius, the Baby of the World, by Kevin Henkes
Intermediate: Fudge-a-Mania, by Judy Blume
Middle School/Junior High: Something Upstairs, by Avi
Young Adult: The Silver Kiss, by Annette Curtis Klause


Primary: High-Wire Henry, written by Mary Calhoun, illustrated by Erick Ingraham
Intermediate: Scared Stiff, by Willo Davis Roberts
Middle School/Junior High: There's a Girl in My Hammerlock, by Jerry Spinelli
Young Adult: We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier


Primary: Martha Speaks, by Susan Meddaugh
Intermediate: Stonewords, by Pam Conrad
Middle School/Junior High: Rescue Josh McGuire, by Ben Mikaelsen
Young Adult: Downriver, by Will Hobbs


Primary: Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon
Intermediate: Time for Andrew, by Mary Downing Hahn
Middle School/Junior High: Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick
Young Adult: Shadow of the Dragon, by Sherry Garland


Primary: Don't Fidget a Feather!, written by Erica Silverman, illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Intermediate: Jennifer Murdley's Toad, by Bruce Coville
Middle School/Junior High: Sparrow Hawk Red, by Ben Mikaelsen
Young Adult: Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher


Primary: Dog Breath, by Dav Pilkey
Intermediate: The Junkyard Dog, by Erika Tamar
Middle School/Junior High: The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis
Young Adult: Ironman, by Chris Crutcher


Primary: Livingstone Mouse, written by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Henry Cole
Intermediate: The 13th Floor, written by Sid Fleischman, illustrated by Peter Sis
Middle School/Junior High: Under the Blood Red Sun, by Graham Salisbury
Young Adult: The Only Alien on the Planet, by Kristen Randle



Primary: Lost, written by Paul Brett Johnson and Celeste Lewis, illustrated by Johnson
Intermediate: Riding Freedom, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Middle School/Junior High: Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
Young Adult: Breaking Bones, by A. M. Jenkins


Primary: Grandpa's Teeth, by Rod Clement
Intermediate: Honus & Me, by Dan Gutman
Middle School/Junior High: Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Young Adult: Armageddon Summer, by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville


Primary: Hooway for Wodney Wat, written by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn M. Munsinger
Intermediate: The Million Dollar Shot, by Dan Gutman
Middle School/Junior High: Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos
Young Adult: Bad, by Jean Ferris
Picture Books for Older Readers: Weslandia, by Paul Fleischman


Primary: I Will Never, Not Ever, Eat a Tomato, by Lauren Child
Intermediate: Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
Middle School/Junior High: Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen
Young Adult: Define "Normal", by Julie Anne Peters
Picture Books for Older Readers: The Babe and I, by David A. Adler


Primary: A Fine, Fine School, written by Sharon Creech, illustrated by Harry Bliss
Intermediate: The School Story, by Andrew Clements
Middle School/Junior High: Flipped, by Wendelin Van Draanen
Young Adult: Ties that Bind, Ties that Break, by Lensey Namioka
Picture Books for Older Readers: And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon, by Janet Stevens


Primary: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Intermediate: Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech
Middle School/Junior High: Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clements
Young Adult: Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz
Picture Books for Older Readers: Mr. Lincoln's Way, by Patricia Polacco


Primary: Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook, by Michael Garland
Intermediate: The Good Dog, by Avi
Middle School/Junior High: 12 Again, by Sue Corbett
Young Adult: After, by Francine Prose
Picture Books for Older Readers: Boxes for Katje, written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen


Primary: My Lucky Day, by Keiko Kasza
Intermediate: Christopher Mouse, by William Wise
Middle School/Junior High: Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko
Young Adult: Shattering Glass, by Gail Giles
Picture Books for Older Readers: The Cats in Krasinski Square, written by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Wendy Watson


Primary: Superdog: The Heart of a Hero, written by Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner
Intermediate: Each Little Bird That Sings, by Deborah Wiles
Middle School/Junior High: The Schwa Was Here, by Neal Shusterman
Young Adult: Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo
Picture Books for Older Readers: Mr. Maxwell's Mouse, written by Frank Asch, illustrated by Devin Asch


Primary: Stanley's Wild Ride, written by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Bill Slavin
Intermediate: Sheep, by Valerie Hobbs
Middle School/Junior High: Heat, by Mike Lupica
Young Adult: Sold, by Patricia McCormick
Picture Books for Older Readers: Mystery at the Club Sandwich, written and illustrated by Doug Cushman



Primary: Millie Waits for the Mail, by Alexander Steffensmeier
Intermediate: No Talking, by Andrew Clements
Middle School/Junior High: Alabama Moon, by Watt Key
Young Adult: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Picture Books for Older Readers: Owney: The Mail-Pouch Pooch, written by Mona Kerby, illustrated by Lynne Barasch


Primary: Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, written by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Michael Austin
Intermediate: Zorgamazoo, by Robert Paul Weston
Middle School/Junior High: Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam, by Cynthia Kadohata
Young Adult: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Picture Books for Older Readers: John, Paul, George, and Ben, written and illustrated by Lane Smith


Primary: I Need My Monster, written by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
Intermediate: Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, by Danette Haworth
Middle School/Junior High: Every Soul a Star, by Wendy Mass.
Young Adult: Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
Picture Books for Older Readers: Henry's Freedom Box, written by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson


Primary: We Are in a Book!, written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Intermediate: The Giant Slayer, by Iain Lawrence
Middle School/Junior High: Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper
Young Adult: Matched, by Ally Condie
Picture Books for Older Readers: Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine and a Miracle, written by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, and Mary Nethery, illustrated with photographs by members of the Marines team


Primary: Press Here, written and illustrated by Herve Tullet
Intermediate: The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann
Middle School/Junior High: Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick
Young Adult: Divergent, by Veronica Roth
Picture Books for Older Readers: Queen of the Falls, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg


Primary: Exclamation Mark, written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Intermediate: Wonder, by R. J. Palacio
Middle School/Junior High: The False Prince, by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Young Adult: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
Picture Books for Older Readers: Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Team, written by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno


Primary: The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Intermediate: A Dog Called Homeless, by Sarah Lean
Middle School/Junior High: Dogtag Summer, by Elizabeth Partridge
Young Adult: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
Picture Books for Older Readers: Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares
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