1920s Newbery Medal Winners

1920s Newbery Books

We survived the 1920s. And let me tell you, it was an accomplishment. I think Sally and I are both hoping that the ensuing decades will go considerably faster than this first one.

Overall characteristics:

1. Lots and lots and lots of description. Did I say lots of description? Nearly every story described things to the point of pain.

2. Racism. Some more blatant than others. Only Gay-Neck basically had none. Dr. Dolittle was probably the worst, though terming Mexicans “breeds” for half-breeds in Smoky the Cowhorse was right up there.

3. Author diversity. Of the 8 authors, only 3 were American. Sadly, this first Newbery decade, with 5 non-American authors, equals the entire rest of the Newbery list. There have only been 5 non-American authors since 1930.

4. Male authors. Every single one of the authors was male, the only decade for which this is true. Overall, female authors outnumber men something like 60/40.

What I would read again/recommend:

I’d only recommend two of these books, The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle and Shen of the Sea. While both have problematic parts, which should be discussed with kids if you let them read these, the pacing problems which plague most of the rest of the selections are absent for these. They’re both fast, amusing reads.


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