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Results of Our 2019 Coretta Scott King Award

January 26, 2019

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


Last year's honors included:


2018 WINNER:

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (WINNER)



Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James (honor)

Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! by Andrea Loney and Keith Mallett (honor)

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford and Elizabeth Zunon (honor)


(see original post)


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. 

A hallway bulletin board shows off the nominees in our second 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 Who will win our CSK (Coretta Scott King Award)? Swansfield students have a say!.


2019 WINNER:

We are pleased to announce our winner, Don't Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers).

 The voting was close, but in the end nothing could compete with Sharee's beautiful book about consent and boundaries.


Amid the laughter on pages where Aria, the story's main character, is fleeing the reaching hands of others, including not just people but also a mermaid, some monkeys, a pair of aliens, and even a dragon, this book landed in a space where all could relate. I spoke with Sharee about how she approached a story centering on consent and preserving the message without the story getting too heavy-handed. Listen to The Children's Book Podcast Episode #482 for that and more.



My students also spent the week before winter break tweeting to our nominees. I talked to them about how Twitter works (hashtags, @ names, age restrictions, etc.) and invited them to take over my Twitter account in order to communicate to our nominees. We used special hashtags to indicate that these were students speaking from an adult account and I preserved the integrity of their message by putting it in quotes.


What was REALLY  cool was when authors and illustrators of our nominees started writing back! I included as many responses as I could on our bulletin board so that they could be accessible by all students and staff.


Here are two responses from Sharee:




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:


We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices by Wade Hudson (Editor) and Cheryl Willis Hudson (Editor) (Crown Books for Young Readers)
What do we tell our children when the world seems bleak, and prejudice and racism run rampant? With 96 lavishly designed pages of original art and prose, fifty diverse creators lend voice to young activists.
Cheryl and Wade joined me recently on the Children's Book Podcast to share how this powerful book came together. Listen to Episode #486 with Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson and enjoy!
Hammering for Freedom: The William Lewis Story by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, John Holyfield (Lee & Low Books)
Born into slavery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, William "Bill" Lewis learned the blacksmith trade as soon as he was old enough to grip a hammer. He proved to be an exceptional blacksmith and earned so much money fixing old tools and creating new ones that he was allowed to keep a little money for himself. With just a few coins in his pocket, Bill set a daring plan in motion: he was determined to free his family. 
Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)

Venus and Serena Williams are two of the greatest tennis players of all time. Some say they’re two of the greatest athletes of all time. Before they were world famous, they were little girls with big dreams.


Venus and Serena Williams. Two peas in a pod. Best friends. Sisters.


Six days a week they awoke before the sun came up to practice their serves and returns, to learn to run faster and hit harder. They were unstoppable. At age fourteen, Venus played her first professional match. Three years later, it was Serena’s turn. It wasn’t easy. Some tennis fans cheered for these two fresh faces, while those who were unhappy to see two black girls competing in a nearly all-white sport booed and taunted them. But they didn’t let it stop them.

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!

*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will support the costs of maintaining the podcast, webcomic, and other materials associated with this site. 

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