Thursday, January 17, 2008

Children's Book Awards that Celebrate Diversity

When I taught middle school, I had students from many different backgrounds and cultures in my class. Each class was allowed to go to the library once a month to check out books. Even though I understood the reasoning (my school had over 2000 children), I thought it was a shame. So after much begging and pleading, I arranged a deal with our librarian to allow two kids from each of my classes to visit the library for 20 minutes each day. Kids would come back to my classroom and show me their choices, and I remember them being extremely excited when they found a book about their culture. The unfortunate thing was that there weren’t that many multicultural books in the library. It was also unfortunate that our librarians had very small budgets with which to purchase books, but that didn’t stop me from making suggestions and giving them multicultural titles that I would like to see in the library.

I learned very quickly that they were more likely to purchase titles which had won awards, so I relied heavily on book award lists to help me make my picks. Here are some I used back then, and more I recently found:

Carter G. Woodson Book Award and Honor
This award is given annually to the most distinguished social science books that depict ethnicity in the United States. Awards are given at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels.

The Américas Award
This award is given to books of all genres published in the United States in English or Spanish that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. Awards are given to different levels of children’s books from picture books to YA books.

The Correta Scott King Book Award
Given to African American authors and illustrator whose books promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream.

The Jane Addams Children's Book Award

This annual award is given to children’s books that promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races.

The Pura Belpré Award
This award is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award
This award is presented annually to outstanding books that authentically portray the Jewish experience.

The Tomás Rivera Award
This annual award is given to authors and illustrating depicting the culture and values of Mexican Americans.

The Schneider Family Book Award
This award honors an author or illustrator for a book portrays some aspect of living with disabilities.

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award
This award is given to an American publisher for an outstanding children’s book that was originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country, and translated into English and published in the United State. The award promotes communication and understanding among people of different races, cultures, languages, etc.

And much thanks to Abby for pointing these out to me:

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (APAAL)
"The goal is to honor and recognize individual work about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, based on literary and artistic merit. "

Native American Youth Services Literature Award
"The children's book award was created as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. "

Are there others out there I’ve missed?

Be sure to check out Wizards Wireless this Monday for the January Carnival of Children's Literature. The theme? Book Awards!


  1. Jill,

    Great round-up! Just learned of your blog via the recent Awards Carnival. Another source for multi-cultural titles is the newly announced "28 Days Later" effort by the Brown Bookshelf to promote African American authors and illustrators of children's and YA lit. Look forward to visiting your blog in the future!

    Best, Kyra

  2. Kyra,
    Thanks for visiting and thanks so much for letting me know about "28 Days Later." I'm writing up a post about it now. And thanks for letting me know about your wonderful blog...great stuff!

  3. Jill,

    What a great post! There are a couple more that I know of...

    The Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

    and there is an award from the American Indian Library Association: The Native American Youth Services Literature Award. (This page hasn't been updated, but if you click on the "Home" link on the left, there's an announcement about the 2008 winners.)

    Thanks for posting! :D

  4. Thanks so much Abby! I'm adding these two awards to my list!

  5. Hi Jill, thanks for the great information. I write a series of books for kids that uses a cast of multicultural characters who teach kids about sports. My business partner and myself are mothers of different ethnicities who both have multiracial kids which is why we created the series. This award information will come in handy!

    Warmest Regards,
    Kakie Fitzsimmons
    Award winning co-Author, Bur Bur and Friends children's book series

    Would love to have you come on over and visit our blog sometime!

  6. Hi Kakie,
    Thanks so much for visiting and for the information about Bur Bur and Friends! Seems like a great series of books!