Center for Children’s Literature

Irma Black Award

The Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Irma Black Award) goes to an outstanding book for young children—a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole. The Irma Black Award is unusual in that children are the final judges of the winning book.

Irma Black Award Voting Form

  • A voting link will be sent to registered participants in May 2021.
  • Votes are due June 3, 2021.

Irma Black Award Ceremony

Thousands of children in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and the United Arab Emirates will participate in the voting process in 2021. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the award ceremony scheduled for Thursday, May 13, 2021 with keynoter, Sophie Blackall, two time Caldecott winner, has been canceled. However, we will be sharing videos from the gold medalists and honorees on this page later in May.


2021 Irma Black Award Contenders


Bread for Words

Cat Dog Dog

Nana Akua
Goes to School

Your Name Is a Song
  • Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story by Shana Keller, illustrated by Kayla Stark (Sleeping Bear Press)
  • Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family  by Nelly Buchet, illustrated by Andrea Zuill  (Schwartz & Wade)
  • Nana Akua Goes to School  by Tricia Elam Walker, illustrated by April Harrison (Schwartz & Wade)
  • Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Innovation Press)

2020 Irma Black Award Winner

The Crayon Man: The Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
by Natascha Biebow; illustrated by Steven Salerno (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Honor Books

  • Rocket Says Look Up by Nathan Bryon; illustrated by Dapo Adeola (Random House Publishers)
  • Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry; illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Kokila Press)
  • The Most Terrible of All by Muon Thi Van and Matt Myers (Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster)