1940s Newbery Books: A Decade in Review

The 1940’s Newbery winners were not a particularly diverse group of books, mainly featuring fearless pioneers, hard-won battles and historical figures. Historical fiction really caught on this decade as the books covers a wide range of time periods – including the medieval age and the Revolutionary War era. The best of these books took time to focus on character growth while the worst showcased racism, stereotypes and painful dialects.

Both of our collective book rating averages were 2.45 for this decade, which is slightly down from the 1930’s but up from the 1920’s. Nevertheless, we both agreed that this decade was much more consistent in its quality, even if it didn’t have any standouts such as Caddie Woodlawn and The Cat Who Went to Heaven. I would still hesitate to recommend any of these books to modern day readers, but at least the dialogue and narratives were more bearable than previous decades.

Here are our 1940’s Newbery rankings:

Diamonds in the Rough
King of the Wind

Decent Reads
The Twenty-One Balloons
Adam of the Road
Johnny Tremain
Call It Courage

How Did These Win the Newbery Medal?
The Matchlock Gun
Rabbit Hill

Bottom of the Trash Heap
Miss Hickory
Strawberry Girl
Daniel Boone


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