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8 Newbery-Nominated SFF Stories for Kids

Whether you're shopping for a kid or just young at heart, these Newbery nominees are close to perfect.

This collage of Newbery-nominated books includes Robin McKinley and Susan Cooper books

The Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the American Library Association to the author of "the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children." For over a century, the Newbery has been handed out to some of the biggest and most critically acclaimed novelists in children's fiction. The prize covers all genres, including sci-fi and fantasy. 

Here are eight Newbery Medal nominated and winning SFF novels that are perfect for kids and the young at heart! 

The Hero and the Crown

The Hero and the Crown

By Robin McKinley

Lady Aerin was raised knowing the strange story of her mother, a witch who bewitched the king into marrying her, then died of despair when she birthed a daughter—Aerin—instead of a son. But there was more of the story yet to be told. She has her own destiny to fulfil. She makes friends with her father’s lame, retired warhorse, Talat, and discovers an old recipe for dragonfire-proof ointment. 

After two years, she's ready to test it out on a small dragon. She didn't expect to be confronted by the mythical Black Dragon, the last of the great dragons who has not been seen by man for centuries.

The Tombs of Atuan

The Tombs of Atuan

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is an undisputed legend of fantasy fiction, particularly for her iconic and extremely influential Earthsea Cycle. The Tombs of Atuan is the second part in the series. When young Tenar is chosen as high priestess to the ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth, she is forced to give up everything: her home, her loved ones, even her name. Now, she is Arha, the Eaten One, guardian of the ominous Tombs of Atuan. 

While she is working her way through the dark labyrinth, a young wizard, Ged, comes to steal the Tombs' greatest hidden treasure, the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. He ends up becoming Tenar's greatest ally in the face of seemingly inescapable darkness.

the girl who drank the moon

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

By Kelly Barnhill

Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest in the hopes that she'll leave their small town in peace. But the witch is no ogre. Xan is actually very kind, living in the swamp with a tiny dragon and a wise monster named Glerk. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to loving families who won't sacrifice them. 

But one year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magical abilities. She names the girl Luna and raises her as her own. When Luna approaches her 13th birthday, her magic appears, but Xan is far away and can't help with this transition. Back in her old village, a man is determined to kill the witch, and the only one in sight is Luna…

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

By Neil Gaiman

In Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, fter his parents were brutally murdered, a little boy crawled into a graveyard and found a new home along the ghosts. Newly named Nobody Owens, he grows up as the living child of the dead, guided by the mysterious caretaker Silas, who exists on the border between life and death. But Bod cannot live here forever, especially since the man who killed his parents is still at large. As he nears his 14th year in the graveyard, he must uncover the truth of his origins and choose between life and death for good. 

The Cover of 'The Tale of Despereaux' by Kate DiCamillo features a mouse with a sewing needle for a sword

The Tale of Despereaux

By Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Tomothy Basil Ering

Despereaux Tilling is a very brave mouse. He loves music, reading, and the beautiful human Princess Pea. The bitter rat Roscuro is sick of being relegated to the shadows. He plans to kidnap Princess Pea for revenge. It falls upon Despereaux, armed with a sewing needle as a sword, to head into the dungeons and save the day.


Bridge to Terabithia

By Katherine Paterson

Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade, but he's beaten at the last minute by Leslie Burke, the new girl in school. Soon, the pair become the best of friends, spending their days in the woods behind Leslie's house. Together, they invent a magical land called Terabithia, populated by magic and mythical creatures where the pair of them rule over it all as king and queen. It's the perfect escape from reality, but then a horrific tragedy occurs. Terabithia will need to become more than a respite to survive.

The Grey King

The Grey King

By Susan Cooper

The Dark is Rising is considered one of the most beloved children's fantasy series of the 20th century, and the fourth entry in the saga took home the Newbery for Susan Cooper. On the eve of his 11th birthday, Will discovered he possessed the power of the Old Ones, and that he has the responsibility of vanquishing the evil forces of the Dark. With the final battle between the Light and the Dark soon approaching, Will needs help for his cause. 

Hidden within the Welsh hills is a magical harp with the power to wake the Sleepers, six noble riders of immense power who have been asleep for hundreds of years. But the Lord of the Dark, the Grey King, currently possesses the harp. Will needs more than his wits to rip the weapon from the King's hands and lead light to defeat the darkness.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, lives in a cinderblock in a field owned by a human farmer. Her son Timothy falls ill, just as the farmers prepare to plow the field that will destroy their home. Timothy is too sick to move, so Mrs. Frisby is forced to find a cure. 

She is introduced to Nicodemus and the rats of NIMH, a group of hyper-intelligent rodents with incredible abilities due to being experimented upon by scientists. They offer to help Mrs. Frisby and her family, but nature’s perennial battle against humans has never been without complications.