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History of the Medals

The Carnegie Medal for Writing

The Carnegie Medal for Writing is awarded annually to a book for children and young people that creates an outstanding reading experience through writing.

Medal holders include Arthur Ransome, C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Phillip Pullman, Sally Gardner and Elizabeth Acevedo.

The Carnegie Medal was established in 1936 in memory of the great Scottish-born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). Carnegie was a self-made industrialist who made his fortune in steel in the USA. His experience of using a library as a child led him to resolve that “if ever wealth came to me that it should be used to establish free libraries.”

Carnegie set up more than 2800 libraries across the English-speaking world and, by the time of his death, over half the library authorities in Great Britain had Carnegie libraries.

First awarded to Arthur Ransome for Pigeon Post, the winner receives a golden medal and the £5,000 Colin Mears Award. Colin Mears, a Worthing based accountant and children’s book collector, left a bequest providing every winner with a cash award.

The Carnegie Medal for Illustration

The Carnegie Medal for Illustration is the only prize in the UK to solely reward outstanding illustration in a children’s book; it is awarded annually to a children’s book illustrator whose artwork creates an outstanding reading experience.

The Carnegie Medal for Illustration, formerly known as the Kate Greenaway Medal, was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It was originally named after the popular and highly influential nineteenth century artist known for her fine children’s illustrations and designs.

Previous winners include Levi Pinfold, Raymond Briggs, Shirley Hughes, former Children’s Laureates Quentin Blake, Anthony Brown, Chris Riddell and Lauren Child.

The winner receives a golden medal and the £5,000 Colin Mears Award.

The Medals are awarded annually by CILIP, the library and information association.

The Shadowers Choice Medals

The Shadowers Choice Medals for Writing and Illustration are chosen by young people who participate in Shadowing the shortlists.

Each year thousands of reading groups in schools and libraries in the UK and overseas get involved in the Awards, with children and young people ‘shadowing’ the judging process. They read, discuss and review the books on the shortlists, get involved in reading related activities in groups, and vote for their favourite books to win The Carnegie Shadowers’ Choice Medals for Writing and Illustration.

The Shadowers Choice winners receive a golden medal, and from 2024 onwards, will also receive a £500 donation to a library of their choice.