The Coretta Scott King Book Awards

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King who, after her husband’s assassination, continued the work for racial equality and peace throughout the world.  

Each year the Coretta Scott King Book Award is presented to exceptional African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that exhibit an appreciation of African American culture and global human values. The award was founded in 1969 by Mabel McKissick and Glyndon Greer and the first award was given to author Lillie Patterson in 1970 for her biography, Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace. Below are listed some of the more recent recipients of the Coretta Scott King Book Award.  

Picture Books

The Undefeated
by Kwame Alexander

2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Book Award, 2020 Caldecott Medal book, and John Newberry Honor book 

This is for the unforgettable. The unafraid. The undefeated. This is a love letter to America. To black America. To the grit, passion, and perseverance of our greatest artists, athletes, and activists. To the dreamers. To the strength and bravery of everyday people caught in the web of history.  

With references to lyrics and lines originally shared by our most celebrated heroes, this poem digs into the not-so-distant past to underline the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.” – From the book jacket 

“Every single morning, the overseer of the plantation rings the bell. Daddy gathers wood. Mama cooks. Ben and the other slaves go out to work. Each day is the same. Full of grueling work and sweltering heat. Every day, except one, when the bell rings and Ben is nowhere to be found. Because Ben ran. Yet, despite their fear and sadness, his family remains hopeful that maybe, just maybe, he made it North. That he is free.

An ode to hope and a powerful tribute to the courage of those who ran for freedom, The Bell Rang is a stunning reminder that our past can never be forgotten.” – From the publisher

The Bell Rang
by James E. Ransome

2020 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book and a Kirkus Reviews best picture book of 2019

Middle Grades

New Kid
by Jerry Craft

2020 Coretta Scott King Author Book Award and the 2020 John Newberry Medal Winner

New Kid tells the story of Jordan Banks, an artistic black middle school student who has transferred from public school to an elite, predominantly white private school and must contend not only with typical middle school challenges but also with microaggressions and code-switching. Told in a graphic novel format, Jordan’s experiences are rendered highly accessible to young people and include his own doodles, journal entries and handbooks for middle school students.” – EMIERT of the American Library Association 

“This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy— 
Talking about boogers. 
Stealing pocket change. 
Skateboarding. 
Wiping out. 
Braving up. 
Executing complicated handshakes. 
Planning an escape. 
Making jokes. 
Lotioning up. 
Finding comfort. 
But mostly, too busy walking home. 
 
Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and weaves them into a look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.” – From the publisher 

Look Both Ways
by Jason Reynolds

2020 Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a National Book Award Finalist

Find these books and more in our Special Selections area of the Children’s Department at the library.

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