Judging from the Newbery Award books I’ve seen and read, the books need to be well written, but they also need to have an unusual topic. Given the sheer numbers of books written and published, that’s fair. Some of them are so original, however, they defy categorization.
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Newbery Honor Book, 1949
This novel is the fantastical story of a young boy who runs away to an island to rescue a baby dragon.
The novel has been made into a Japanese anime version and a stage musical, and will be released as a Netflix film in 2021…so get the free novel (in the public domain) first and read it now!
Find My Father’s Dragon at Project Gutenberg here…downloadable in multiple formats with no log ins required.
Find the FREE audio version of My Father’s Dragon at Librivox.
All three volumes in what became a trilogy are included here.
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Newbery Medal, 1923
Here’s another one, about a doctor who could talk to animals, that continues to be popular, and yup, the original book is in the public domain so it’s free.
There are a lot of movie versions around too.
FREE downloadable versions in multiple formats at Project Gutenberg: The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle.
There are numerous sequels, some of which are also available in a free download at Project Gutenberg.
The Dream Coach by Anne Parrish
Newbery Honor Book, 1925
The Dream Coach links the idea of travel and fairy tales in this wonderful book in which a dream coach brings children their dreams.
If you like these, find more great FREE reads here:
For more fairy tales, check out The Lois Level’s FREE Fairy Tales and Folk Stories for Kids, Teens, and Adults
For some great adventure stories, check out Free Classic Adventure Stories for Kids, Teens, and Adults
For the early 20th Century fantasy series that rivals Harry Potter, check out this post from The Lois Level: How L. Frank Baum Invented Wizardry in North America (beating J.K. Rowling by nearly 100 Years)