Selects Best Children’s Books
language poetry speaks is not that of philosophy…but, that of
the child’s heart,” said Marilyn Nelson, author of Carver:
a life in poems, who was honored with the Flora Stieglitz
Award for Nonfiction presented by the Children’s Book Committee
at Bank Street College of Education.
The award, named after and in honor of the first chairperson of
the Book Committee is given annually to a children’s book advancing
and embracing humanitarian ideals. In Carver: a life in poems,
Nelson highlights Washington Carver’s life, achievements and his
dedication to the greater good.
[book] has brought me into the unexpected experience of sharing
my poems with young people,” said Nelson. “Carver was a great
soul…and [his] value testifies to the best values of human kind.”
Nelson, the state Poet Laureate of Connecticult, was one of three
authors honored for their work and their contribution to the world
of children’s books recently. This year all of the top three books
happen to be written as poetry.
The Josette Frank Award, presented to a book demonstrating exceptional
literary merit and providing children with an example of overcoming
obstacles, while maintaining a positive outlook, was given to
Vera B. Williams, author of Amber was Brave, Essie was Smart.
The book tells the story of two sisters struggling to grow up
under difficult circumstances. The award, named after an early
member of the committee, was first presented in 1943.
especially wonderful for me to get this award for a book that
it was a big, scary jump for me. I didn’t realize it then, but
I know it was now,” said Williams, addressing the challenge of
not writing in straight narrative. “I love this book.”
Williams was also given the Claudia Lewis Award, an honor she
shared with Sharon Creech, author of Love That Dog. The
award, which is named after a late committee member and former
Bank Street professor, was first given in 1997 and is presented
annually to the best poetry book of the year for young readers.
Love That Dog tells the story of a young boy’s journey
through the world of poetry and the process through which he discovers
a love for the genre that teaches him much about himself.
became a writer when I had read and heard all and was able to
put it all together…and when you read my stories, maybe you will
hear all that I have read,” said Creech.
Since 1943, the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College
of Education has annually honored various children’s books in
an effort to assist educators and parents through the process
of selecting great children’s books.
Augusta Kappner, President of Bank Street College referred to
the event as an “opportunity to celebrate the work of all those
who contribute to make the great world of children’s books.” She
added, “great books do allow children to experience over and over
again a great sense of self discovery.”
The Committee, whose membership includes children of ages seven-15
from around that nation, reviews more than 4,000 books every year.
The criteria include literary quality, presentation, potential
emotional impact on readers, age suitability, absence of stereotypes,
credibility of characterization and plot and authenticity of time
and places. In addition to the books selected to receive awards,
the Committee recommends 600 other books appearing in The Best
Children’s Books of the Year.#
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