The Coretta Scott King Award is celebrating it's 40th Anniversary.
Long time readers know that it is always about me, so of course I thought, hey, I was two when this began!
Here's a true story. When I was little, my mother was all about finding the lists of books one should read to one's child. (See where I get my OCD/ love of lists from?)
My mother went to the library in Union, NJ; and found a book with recommended reading lists. Doing the exact right thing a young parent does, looking up books for what to read to your child. One of the books recommended, back in 1968, 1969? Little Black Sambo. For the record? Mom did not check out that book; and did not look for the other "recommended" books on the list.
To me, this story shows, perfectly, why, 40 years ago, the CSK Award was needed. And today? The statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children's Book Council, as reported by Mitali Perkins, show that today "172 books (or only 6% of all books) had significant African or African American content, with 83 books (less than half) by black book creators, either authors and/or illustrators." Because numbers in isolation don't tell us much, Mitali notes that blacks make up 17% of our school's population. So, yeah, the CSK award was needed, and is still needed.
Meghan Clinton put together the following fun facts about the CSK Award (lists! awesome!):
1. Lillie Patterson was the first author to receive the Coretta Scott King Book Award for “Martin Luther King, Jr. Man of Peace.”
2. The author who has won the most Coretta Scott King Book Awards: Walter Dean Myers with five wins.
3. The illustrator who has won the most Coretta Scott King Book Awards: Jerry Pinkney with five wins.
4. Coretta Scott King received a special citation in 1984 for “The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.”
5. Critically-acclaimed actor, Sidney Poitier, won the Coretta Scott King Book Award in 1981 for “This Life.”
6. Internationally renowned artist, Lev Mills, designed the Coretta Scott King Book Award seal in 1974.
7. The Coretta Scott King Book Award has honored 113 authors and illustrators over the past 40 years.
8. In 1995, Sharon Draper was the first author to win the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award (formerly known as the Genesis Award) for “Tears Of A Tiger.” Three years later, she won her first Coretta Scott King Book Award for “Forged By Fire.”
9. After winning her first Coretta Scott King Book Author Award for “Toning The Sweep” in 1994, Angela Johnson went on to win the 2003 MacArthur “Genius” Award.
10. In 2000, Christopher Paul Curtis became the first author to win the Coretta Scott King Book Award and the Newbery Medal for the same book “Bud, Not Buddy.
11. In 1972, several dozens of librarians gathered for the first Coretta Scott King Book Awards gala breakfast. This year, close to 1,000 are expected to celebrate in Chicago, IL.
12. The 2009 winners of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards are Kadir Nelson, author of “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” and Floyd Cooper, illustrator of “The Blacker the Berry.”
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy