My students spent the month of December reading 16 picture books we think could be in the running for the Coretta Scott King Award, given annually "to encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts, including biographical, historical and social history treatments by African American authors and illustrators." (Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table - EMIERT)
Classes read two books at a time and our nominees were eliminated through a four-round-bracket system wherein the final round books would all earn honors, regardless of the top winner. These books were loved by a lot of readers and there wasn't a single nominee that didn't have loyal supports throughout the elimination rounds.
My students show off the nominees in our first annual mock Coretta Scott King award. Our 16 nominees were read by over 600 students in grades PreK-5 in our Maryland elementary school.
To read the full list of nominees with book descriptions and a walkthrough of our process, read my previous post on Tracking Our Coretta Scott King Award.
We are pleased to announce our winner, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison.
We even went to lengths of overlaying a digital image of the award onto the book cover so that students can become award of what medal to look for in other winners in our library.
I loved the reaction students had to this book. Because it's a collection of 40 short biographies, we did not have enough time in one class to read the book cover to cover. Instead, I read the Vashti's introduction written to each class and then asked students to select a number between 1 and 40. I can say with confidence that there wasn't a single individual whose bio didn't impress the class in one way or another. Vashti's thoughtful selection of individuals, her focused and energetic text, and the beautifully detailed illustrations made this book an undeniable force. Among the students' biggest reactions were the lives of Katherine Johnson, Alma Woodsey Thomas, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Oprah Winfrey, and Nichelle Nichols. This was a book that was studied (STUDIED!) whenever I left it on a table during book selection, and it's one I know will circulate from reader to reader for many years to come.
We also named three honor books that were so good and so beautiful that they had their own strong supporters making sure they each received a critical mass of votes.
Those books were:
Celebrating the twelve different types of natural hair worn all all different kinds of princesses enjoying doing all different kinds of things.
Admiring the results of a trip to the barber shop in not only looking different, but feeling different as well.
An amazing portrait of the man who captured the Harlem Renaissance in photographs.
Celebrating the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist.
Thank you to the authors and illustrators of all of our nominees for inspiring our students, challenging us to consider history and its implications on who we are today, and entertaining us with humor and joy and an overwhelming sense of love for ourselves and others.
Truly we are blessed to have such amazing books at our fingertips. I know there are many, many books that were overlooked in our award process. No doubt there were books that we have yet to discover that could have been strong contenders on this list. We look forward to going through this selection process again next year!
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