When Jerry Craft became the very first graphic novelist to receive a Newbery Medal, he shattered a glass ceiling for cartoonists, who have long been looked at as producing “lesser” literature than their prose-writing siblings. I am so proud of him. The Jan. 27 announcement that the prestigious prize for American children’s literature will go to his New Kid, the story of a seventh-grader who doesn’t fit in at his mostly white private school, is a victory for Jerry and for the art form of comics.
Jerry’s win (after many, many years of hard work) proves once and for all that comics and graphic novels are real books, real reading, and really and truly deserve shelf space front and center. It has been a joy to watch sequential art evolve and to see the warm reception graphic novels have received from young readers and awards committees alike! How joyous that when children read New Kid in decades to come, they will feel the tactile merit of the golden sticker on its cover.
Telgemeier is the Eisner Award–winning author of the best-selling graphic novel Guts
This appears in the February 10, 2020 issue of TIME.