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Coretta Scott King Awards Celebrate Forty Years

"Where the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Meet YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults and the
Michael L. Printz Award"

By Deborah Taylor

View selected winners from:

This year, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards will celebrate fortysix years of recognizing outstanding books by African American writers and illustrators. Many of those honored especially for text were also important contributions to young adult literature.

It is interesting to take a look at some of the unique and trailblazing titles that resonated with the Coretta Scott King Committee and YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA) and Michael L. Printz Award Committees. While this selection does not include all of the titles recognized by multiple committees, it does seek to highlight some of the works that represent the scope and variety of the choices over the years.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee also seek to encourage new African American writers and illustrators in the world of publishing for young readers. The establishment of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent gives the awards a way to spotlight promising writers and artists.

Below you will find a list of books honored by both the Coretta Scott King and the Michael L. Printz awards. To view all previous Coretta Scott King award-winners and honorees, please visit the ALA website.


2010-2017


March: Book Three

March: Book Three

The story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it's like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat, an American artist born of a Haitian father and a Brooklyn born mother of Puerto Rican decent, became known as an artist whose work effectively made social commentary. The original illustrations call to mind Basquiat’s visual style while presenting his life and unique work, which broke old tenets of art to became popular in the 1980s.

Gone Crazy in Alabama

Gone Crazy in Alabama

The story of the Gaither sisters, who are about to learn what it's like to be fish out of water as they travel from the streets of Brooklyn to the rural South for the summer of a lifetime.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

The early years of a girl who grows into a writer has been recreated from family stories combined with memory and presented in verse. Born in February 1963 in Ohio, Woodson's family soon moves to the South during turbulent years. The history of the writer, her family and a nation combine in rich, metaphorical language.

P.S. Be Eleven

P.S. Be Eleven

The Gaither sisters return to Brooklyn and find that changes large and small have come to their home. This extraordinary novel earned five starred reviews, with Publishers Weekly calling it "historical fiction that's as full of heart as it is of heartbreak" and The Horn Book considering it "funny, wise, poignant, and thought-provoking."

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America

The early years of a girl who grows into a writer has been recreated from family stories combined with memory and presented in verse. Born in February 1963 in Ohio, Woodson's family soon moves to the South during turbulent years. The history of the writer, her family and a nation combine in rich, metaphorical language.

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it's about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it's about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It's a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer

Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She's had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. When they arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with her, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal

Sitting tall in the saddle, with a wide-brimmed black hat and twin Colt pistols on his belt, Bass Reeves seemed bigger than life. As a U.S. Marshal - and former slave who escaped to freedom in the Indian Territories - Bass was cunning and fearless. When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive. He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn't like the notion of a black lawman.

2000-2009


Becoming Billie Holiday

Becoming Billie Holiday

The life of the legendary jazz singer began and continued in difficult circumstances. Despite her troubles, Eleanora Fagan Gough, aka, Billie Holiday, turned to her musical talent as a way to cope and give voice to her pain and joy. This elegantly illustrated biography in verse captures the spirit and mood of the early years of the young song stylist.
(2009 Coretta Scott King Honor, 2009 BBYA)

Dark Sons

Dark Sons

Sam is distraught when his father leaves him and his mother for a new life and ultimately with a new family. As Sam searches for answers in his religious faith, the parallel biblical story of Ishmael and Abraham also explores the dimensions of love between father and sons. (2006 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 2006 BBYA)

Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl

Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl

Author Tonya Bolden uses an unpublished autobiography as the centerpiece of her research into the life and times of a free African American girl and her activist family in pre-Civil War New York. (2006 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 2006 BBYA)

Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue

Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue

The voices of the enslaved and their masters are powerfully imagined in this series of dialogues set on the day of the largest slave auction held in United States history, in 1859 Savannah, Georgia. (2006 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, 2006 BBYA)

The First Part Last

The First Part Last

Bobby learns he is to be a father on his sixteenth birthday and that is just the first of many surprises and changes he has to endure that year. He finds himself the custodial parent of baby Feather and is quickly plunged into the concerns and responsibilities of parenthood. This literary tour-de-force became the first to receive both the Coretta Scott King Author Award and the Michael L. Printz Award. (2004 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, 2004 Michael L. Printz Award, 2004 BBYA)

Bronx Masquerade

Bronx Masquerade

The power of poetry to illuminate and heal is skillfully revealed in this novel in verse about a high school class that first resists and then embraces poetry as a way to understand and cope with the difficulties and questions in their young lives. (2003 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, 2003 BBYA)

Miracle's Boys

Miracle's Boys

With language both elegant and spare, Woodson examines the determination of three orphaned brothers to remain a family in the face of the emotional pain of loss and the middle brother's struggles with the lure of the streets and the ensuing confrontations with the justice system. (2001 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, 2001 BBYA)

Monster

Monster

The power of poetry to illuminate and heal is skillfully revealed in this novel in verse about a high school class that first resists and then embraces poetry as a way to understand and cope with the difficulties and questions in their young lives. (2003 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, 2003 BBYA)

The 1990s


The Skin I'm In

The Skin I'm In

Flake boldly tackles the sensitive issue of the role skin hue plays within the African American community and its impact on the self-esteem of African American girls. Maleeka Madison is like most middle school girls, desperate to fit in but sure her dark skin will make her a target of her peers. (1999 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, 1999 BBYA)

Another Way to Dance

Another Way to Dance

Fourteen-year-old Vicki Harris must navigate the equally difficult waters of competition and racial tensions as she becomes one of two African American teens at the prestigious summer program of the New York School of American Ballet. (1997 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, 1997 BBYA)

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

Issues of family, race, and sexual orientation are on full display in this compelling story of thirteen-year-old Melanin Sun, who must confront the knowledge that his mother is gay at the same time he is coming to grips with his own identity. (1996 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 1996 BBYA)

Like Sisters on the Homefront

Like Sisters on the Homefront

Gayle's tough bravado, so effective on the streets of New York, is severely challenged when she is shipped off, with her toddler son, Jose, to stay with her minister uncle and his family. The power of family to reclaim a young life on the wrong path is fully explored in this novel. (1996 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 1996 BBYA)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963

Curtis' debut novel successfully manages the difficult task of weaving a humorous family story with the poignancy of one of the hallmark tragedies of the Civil Rights era. (1996 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 1996 BBYA)

Her Stories

Her Stories

This completely authenticated collection of tales from many genres celebrates the powerful voices of women while providing highly entertaining storytelling. The collection is enhanced by the affecting illustrations of Leo and Diane Dillon, who received illustrator honor recognition. (1996 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner and Illustrator Honor, 1996 BBYA)

The Middle Passage: White Ships/ Black Cargo

The Middle Passage: White Ships/ Black Cargo

Feelings' stunning black and white illustrations provide one of the most dramatic depictions of the horrors of the Middle Passage. Determined to let the images tell the story, Feelings uses words only when absolutely necessary to add more power to his visual narrative. (1996 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Winner, 1996 BBYA)

The Road to Memphis

The Road to Memphis

Cassie Logan's story, begun in the Newbery award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, concludes with this dramatic depiction of the South during World War II. Here readers watch Cassie on the verge of adulthood and see glimpses of the struggles that will develop into the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement a decade and a half later. (1991 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, 1991 BBYA)

The 1970s and 1980s


Fallen Angels

Fallen Angels

Myers continues to demonstrate his mastery of the young adult novel in this work many still consider to be among his best. Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry has to grow up quickly as he confronts the brutality of the war in Vietnam. (1989 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner, 1988 BBYA)

Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave

Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave

This decade in publishing for teen readers included a number of powerful novels by Virginia Hamilton that received recognition from both the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and BBYA. However, Hamilton delivers equally powerful storytelling skills in this nonfiction title that relates the dramatic tale of the 1854 resistance of Boston's antislavery community to returning runaway Anthony Burns to slavery. Her use of primary source documentation and source notes provide immediacy to the work. (1989 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 1988 BBYA)

Black Child

Black Child

This collection of thoughtful photographs of life in South Africa before the end of apartheid was a rare illustrator award winner to find a place on the BBYA list. Magubane's arresting shots illuminate the hope and despair of young people during this difficult period in history. (1983 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, 1982 BBYA)

Rainbow Jordan

Rainbow Jordan

Childress effectively uses multiple points of view in this affecting novel of a teen struggling with the difficulties brought on by a parent unable or unwilling to provide the guidance young Rainbow needs. (1982 Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 1981 BBYA)

The Young Landlords

The Young Landlords

This early novel by Myers was the first of many from this trailblazing author to receive recognition by both committees. This humorous novel celebrates the ability of inner city teens to face and triumph over community challenges. (1980 Coretta Scott King Author Award, 1979 BBYA)


About the author

Deborah Taylor is the Coordinator of School and Student Services for the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Ms. Taylor is the current chair of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee. She was a member of the 2004 Michael L. Printz Award Committee, the 2006 Printz Committee, and the 2007 Best Books for Young Adults Committee. She was a member of the 2002 Newbery Award Committee and Chair of the 2000 Coretta Scott King Award Jury. She has also served on the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Committee and has reviewed for Horn Book. She was the 1996-1997 President of YALSA.

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© 2009 YALSA. Coretta Scott King Awards Celebrate Forty Years. Young Adult Library Services; 7, 3. Reprinted with permission.