Most parents are on the lookout for ways to keep their kid’s mind from turning to mush this summer. Sending our youngsters off with a good book is a tried and true technique many of us use. However, the key word there is “good.”

Not all books are created equal. Some are definitely worthy of our time, while others aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. How are you supposed to tell the difference?

If you grab an award winning book, it’s a pretty safe bet the content will be top-notch.

Understanding the Award System

There are various honors awarded to children’s books. Some recognize the author’s efforts; others highlight the illustrator’s contributions.

Before checking out the award winning children’s books of 2015, you may want to venture over to: Book Awards for Children's Literature. It outlines the various awards and the evaluation criteria. Got it? Okay, here you go — the best books of 2015.

The John Newbery Medal

The Crossover, written by Kwame Alexander

Newbery Honor Books

El Deafo, written and illustrated by Cece Bell

Brown Girl Dreaming, written by Jacqueline Woodson

The Randolph Caldecott Medal

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat

Caldecott Honor Books

Nana in the City, written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, written by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandePré

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Viva Frida, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales

This One Summer, written by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Mildred L. Batchelder Award

Mikis and the Donkey written by Bidi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman, translated by Laura Watkinson

Batchelder Honor Books

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust, written by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano, color by Greg Salsedo, translated by Alexis Siegel

Nine Open Arms written by Benny Lindelauf, illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova, translated by John Nieuwenhuizen

Pura Belpre Award

I Lived on Butterfly Hill written by Marjorie Agosín, illustrated by Lee White

Belpre Honor Books

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, written by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raúl Colón

Little Roja Riding Hood, written by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Susan Guevara

Green is a Chile Pepper, written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by John Parra

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, written by Duncan Tonatiuh

Michael Printz Award

I’ll Give you the Sun, written by Jandy Nelson

Midwinterblood, written by Marcus Sedwick

The Returning, written by Christine Hinwood

One Whole and Perfect Day, written by Judith Clarke

The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater

Coretta Scott King Award

Brown Girl Dreaming, written by Jacqueline Woodson

P.S. Be Eleven, written by Rita Williams-Garcia

I, Too, Am American, written by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Ninth Ward, written by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Chill Wind, written by Janet McDonald

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

You Are (Not) Small, written by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Stonewall Award

This Day in June, written by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten

Robert F. Sibert Medal

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, written by Jen Byant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Red House Children’s Book Award, Overall Winner

The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Red House Children’s Book Award, Books for Young Readers

Demon Dentist, written and illustrated by David Walliams

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize

Blown Away, written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph

Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, Best Young Fiction

Murder Most Unladylike, written by Robin Stevens

What Did You Think?

After you’ve read through some of these award winning titles, be sure to come back and tell us what you think. Are they worthy of the honors they’ve received?