This award for fiction honors a book or books of outstanding literary merit in which children or young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally. The award has been given annually since 1943. Josette Frank, the editor of anthologies for children, served for many years as the Executive Director of the Child Study Association of America of which this committee was a part.
The Flora Stieglitz Straus Award
Established in 1994 to honor Flora Straus, who led the Children’s Book Committee for many years, this award is presented annually for a distinguished work of nonfiction that serves as an inspiration to young people. Flora Straus stood for the values of courage, hard work, truth, and beauty while adapting to a changing world. She believed that books about varying cultures enrich and help all children in their growth. She championed diverse opinions and points of view and was a person of high principles, unfailing courtesy, and deep understanding.
The Claudia Lewis Award
The Claudia Lewis Award, given for the first time in 1998, honors the best poetry book of the year. The award commemorates the late Claudia Lewis, distinguished children’s book expert and longtime member of the Bank Street College faculty and Children’s Book Committee. She conveyed her love and understanding of poetry with humor and grace.
The Margaret Wise Brown Board Book Award
Margaret Wise Brown attended Bank Street’s Cooperative School for Teachers in the 1930s. She studied under Bank Street founder, Lucy Sprague Mitchell, learning new theories on childhood education which emphasized direct experiences for children. As part of her Bank Street curriculum Margaret took a course in writing for preschool students. Her skills were further developed as a member of the Bank Street Writers Lab.
Margaret’s most memorable book, Goodnight Moon, published in 1947, is considered a classic gift for new parents. Although board books had not yet been developed when Goodnight Moon was first written, the book, with its beautiful rhythmic language, is a key text in nurturing an infant’s connection to books and subsequently creating a life-long reader.
Children’s literature historian, author, and critic Leonard S. Marcus, author of Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon, noted, “She virtually invented the picture book for very young children.” With this award, the committee honors Margaret’s brilliant contributions to the canon of children’s literature which include Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny as well as over 100 other books.
This new prize will be awarded for the first time at the Children’s Book Committee’s annual award ceremony in April 2023 for books published or adapted to board book form in 2021 and 2022. The prize will be given every two years.
Children’s Book Committee Awards 2021
Flora Stieglitz Straus
Flora Stieglitz Straus (younger readers)
(older readers) 2021
Claudia Lewis (younger readers)
Josette Frank Award Winner
When Stars Are Scattered
by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed; illustrations by Victoria Jamieson and color by Iman Geddy/ Dial BFYR
Julia, 10 years old, Queens, NY
I would rate this book as EXCELLENT. “Omar matured so much as the story unfolded. In the beginning he was overprotective of his brother, Hassan, and didn’t even want to go to school, because then he would have to leave his brother and he thought that he needed to protect him from everything.
Kate, 5th Grade, Lexington, MA
The book taught me about what life is like in a refugee camp, and how Omar dealt with his problems. I also liked how When Stars Are Scattered taught me that you need to persist and try hard before things will get better.
Flora Stieglitz Straus Winner for Older Readers
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team
by Christina Soontornvat/Candlewick Press
Anna, 14 years old, Mt. Sinai, NY
The author did a good job of expressing the importance that teamwork had in rescuing the boys. It’s amazing how selfless and hopeful they remained in even the most peril of situations. It is especially during these times where books like these are important. They are reminders that unity and determination can push us through any situation.
Weston, 7th Grade, Lexington, MA
I rated this as Excellent, “This book is special because it had a way of showing the urgency of the situation and also the incredible bravery of the workers. It also shined a light on some of the sections of this rescue that didn’t go on live TV.
Winner for Younger Readers
Lizzie Demands a Seat!: Elizabeth Jennings Fights for Streetcar Rights
by Beth Anderson with illustrations by E.B. Lewis/Calkins Creek
Eva, 9 years old, Yonkers, NY
I rated it excellent! The book is special because it inspired me to stand up against injustice.
Dylan, 5th grade, San Diego, CA
It was well written, had great vocabulary, and led to a great discussion about author’s notes at the end of the book.
Claudia Lewis Winner for Older Readers
Flooded: Requiem for Johnstown
by Ann E. Burg/Scholastic Press
Emilia, 13 years old, Manhattan, NY
Something that makes this book special is that there are many points of view, giving the reader a panoramic view of the story. What I found inspiring about this book is the recurring theme of pushing society’s limits.
Winner for Younger Readers
I Am Every Good Thing
by Derrick Barnes; illustrations by Gordon C. James from Penguin/Nancy Paulsen
Karuna, 13 years old, RI
I think this book is very empowering and it does a lot with few words. The part that says, “Although I am something like a superhero, / every now and then, / I am afraid” will resonate with a lot of readers.
Join Bank Street This Giving Tuesday
Tuesday, November 30 is Giving Tuesday! Thanks to a special matching gift challenge this year, your gift to Bank Street will double in value—dollar for dollar—up to $50,000. We appreciate your support of our enduring mission toward meaningful, high-quality education for all. Thank you!