In April, the Children’s Book Committee (CBC) at Bank Street College of Education announced the recipients of its annual awards recognizing exceptional children’s literature. The awards include the Josette Frank Award for fiction, the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for nonfiction, and the Claudia Lewis Award for poetry.
This year, I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys received the Josette Frank Award; Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked a Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy, illustrated by Janelle Washington, received the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award; and Augusta Savage: The Shape of a Sculptor’s Life by Marilyn Nelson received the Claudia Lewis Award.
“Throughout the year, the committee evaluates thousands of titles across subjects and genres to identify outstanding books for children based on literary merit, presentation, and emotional resonance,” said Cynthia Weill, Director of the Center for Children’s Literature. “We hope young readers will find this year’s winning books captivating as they expand their understanding of the world and develop a love for reading and learning.”
To celebrate the awards, the honorees shared acceptance speeches through engaging videos in which they spoke about their creative process, shared the inspiration behind their work, and expressed their hopes for the books. They also extended their heartfelt thanks to Bank Street and the CBC for their recognition.
In May, the Center for Children’s Literature announced the gold and silver medalists of the annual Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Irma Black Award) as well as the Cook Prize.
Bathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by David Roberts, was named the gold medalist for the 2023 Irma Black Award, which celebrates the synchronization of text and illustrations within a book to create a singular whole. The award is unique in that children from first and second grade classrooms around the world are the final judges of the winning title. Before this international voting stage, third and fourth grade students at Bank Street School for Children help with the selection process by identifying the finalists.
Silver medalists for the Irma Black Award include John’s Turn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Kate Berube; The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Leo Espinosa; and The Best Kind of Mooncake by Pearl AuYeung.
Like the Irma Black Award, the Cook Prize for the best science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) picture book is a children’s choice award. Third and fourth grade students globally vote on a winner. Children review four finalists, selected in advance by an expert panel of judges, including Bank Street Graduate School of Education faculty members in the math and science departments and School for Children teachers.
The 2023 Cook Prize gold medal was awarded to Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep by Elaine M. Alexander, illustrated by Fiona Fogg. Silver medalists include Infinity: Figuring Out Forever by Sarah C. Campbell, photographed by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell; and The Mystery of the Monarchs by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Erika Meza.
Along with the awards, the committee released its 2023 edition of The Best Children’s Books of the Year featuring an annotated list of more than 600 titles published in 2022 reviewed and selected by CBC members. This year’s edition includes a special statement from the CBC on the increase of banned books across the country.
As written in its statement, the CBC “shares the concerns of other organizations that support freedom of expression and free speech. These freedoms are the bedrock of democracy, and the freedom to read is an indispensable element of that foundation.”
The CBC added, “Readers have a developmental need—and right—to access books encompassing the varied and unique identities, experiences, perspectives, and cultures of a book’s main and supporting characters. The CBC honors representations of characters who are change agents and advocates for social justice, inclusivity, and equity.”
The committee encourages proactive engagement, urging individuals to work together to address book banning and become “a voice of reason in this challenging time.”
Visit our website to learn more about the work of the Center for Children’s Literature and Children’s Book Committee, including the recent release of the first annual Best Board Books of the Year list as well as the fifth Los mejores libros infantiles en Español/The Best Children’s Picture Books of the Year in Spanish, among others.