Created in 1969, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards provide well-deserved recognition to authors and illustrators whose works “demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” The award has helped diversify the landscape of books for young people and brought attention to many authors and illustrators. Winners include Walter Dean Myers, Mildred D. Taylor, Virginia Hamilton and Jerry Pinkney.
A recent article in American Libraries features an interview with several award winners and committee members. Bryan Collier, illustrator of Trombone Shorty, described his experience with The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. This was one of the first children’s books to feature a black child as the main character. Collier was just 4 years old and he said seeing Peter “felt almost bigger than magic.”
Discover More Authors
Many people, including me, have found great authors they might have missed thanks to the Coretta Scott King Awards. I know books that receive this award are going to be good. The list brought me to author and artist Ashley Bryan and now I read anything by him I can get my hands on. Here are a few of my personal favorites from the Coretta Scott King list you might like to read.
The Value of Representation
Committee Member and 2019 Award Winner Claire Hartfield sums up beautifully why the Coretta Scott King book award is important.
“You want African-American kids to grow up with lots of stories that represent them, the ones I didn’t have when I was a kid. It gives you a different sense of self. I also think it’s important for kids who are not of color, to incorporate into their world kids who are not like them in terms of how they look and what their experiences are.”
As a library committed to building an engaged community of readers, that’s an idea we stand behind!