Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners: Not Just For Kids

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The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given out yearly to “outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” Since 1970, the award named for Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife has honored such authors as Toni Morrison, Sharon Draper and Walter Dean Myers.

The American Library Association has officially recognized the award since 1982, putting it in league with the Newbery and Caldecott medals. Each year, children’s librarians anxiously await the announcements of the authors and illustrators chosen for this high honor. This year’s Author Award winner was March: Book Three, written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. The Illustrator Award went to Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. (We reviewed March in more detail in an earlier post.)

Although the books receiving the award are written for a young audience, many of them are also great reads for adults. Take a look at some of these winning titles from previous years.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a memoir in verse. Woodson relates her experiences growing up African American in the 1960s and 70s. Struggles with reading as a child did not stop her from writing and winning awards. Booklist called this book “both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable.”

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia  is the first in a series about sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern, who were abandoned by their mother. When they travel to California in 1968 to meet her, they hope to visit Disneyland. Instead she sends them to a Black Panther-run day camp. These engaging characters will capture your imagination from the first page.

No Crystal Stair

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson is the true story of the author’s great-uncle, Lewis Michaux. When he couldn’t get a loan to open a book store, he did it anyway, with just $100. His Harlem shop became an important place during the Civil Rights movement, frequented by such famous figures as Malcolm X. Of his success, Lewis Michaux had this to say: “I’d say my seeds grew pretty damn well. And not just the book business. It’s the more important business of moving our people forward that has real meaning.”

Dream in color with Jacqueline Woodson

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Megan is a Children’s Library Assistant at CLP – East Liberty. When she isn’t reading fantasy, magical realism and/or pretty much any children’s book, she enjoys gaming, watching movies and writing fiction, some of which has been published.