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Children's Literature Guide

Guide for children's literature awards winners

About the Award

Established in 1969, the Coretta Scott King Award is a book award presented annually to an African American author and an African American illustrator for outstanding contributions published during the previous year. The award is designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King who both had a passion for peace and brotherhood. To learn more about the award, visit:

A listing of the Coretta Scott King Award winners housed in the Curriculum Materials/Media Center is below. These books are organized according to the Library of Congress system of classification.

Award Winners

Award Date Title/ Author and Illustrator Call Number

Author Winner

Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi

Illustrator Winner

An American Story by Kwame Alexander; illustrated by Dare Coulter

Not in collection


Not in collection


Author Winner

Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson

After fleeing the plantation where they were enslaved, siblings Ada and Homer discover the secret community of Freewater, and work with freeborn Sanzi to protect their new home from the encroaching dangers of the outside world.

Illustrator Winner

Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Modern Retelling of the Classic Spiritual by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Frank Morrison

The popular spiritual, Standing in the Need of Prayer, has been reworked to chronicle the milestones, struggles, tragedies, and triumphs of African American people and their history. The text and illustrations of this inspirational book are informative reminders of yesterday, hopeful images for today, and aspirational dreams of tomorrow.

PZ7.1.L865 Fr 2022




BL625.2 .W43 2022


Author Winner

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Boston Weatherford

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history.

Illustrator Winner

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre by Carole Bostong Weatherford; illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history.

F704.T92 W43 2021







Author Winner

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

ZJ's friends Ollie, Darry and Daniel help him cope when his father, a beloved professional football player, suffers severe headaches and memory loss that spell the end of his career.

Illustrator Winner

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Frank Morrison

Aretha Franklin was born to sing. The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, her musical talent was clear from her earliest days in her father's Detroit church. Aretha sang with a soaring voice that spanned more than three octaves. Her incredible talent and string of hit songs earned her the title "the Queen of Soul." This Queen was a multi-Grammy winner and the first female inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And there was even more to Aretha than being a singer, songwriter, and pianist: she was an activist, too. Her song "Respect" was an anthem for people fighting for civil rights and women's rights. With words that sing and art that shines, this vibrant portrait of Aretha Franklin pays her the R-E-S-P-E-C-T this Queen of Soul deserves.

PS3573.O64524 B44 2020




ML3930.F68 W43 2020


Author Winner

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds--and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Illustrator Winner

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander; illustrated by Kadir Nelson

The Newbery Award-winning author of The Crossover pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.

PZ7.7.C74 New 2019







PS3601.L35388 U53 2018


Author Winner

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield

Examines the events and forces leading up to 1919 race riots in Chicago.

Illustrator Winner

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer; illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was . . . nothing. But then . . . BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poetic text, Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies. A seamless blend of science and art, this picture book reveals the composition of our world and beyond -- and how we are all the stuff of stars.

F548.9 .N3 H37 2018



QB983 .B38 2018


Author Winner

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school's amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls.

Illustrator Winner

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander; illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree offer a glorious, lyrical ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder. Out of gratitude for the poet's art form, Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors' hearts sing and their minds wonder. tunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.

PZ7 .W32868 PI 2017




PS595.A86 O95 2017


Author Winner

March: Book Three by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

By the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as a chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continues to force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every step forward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legal tricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: "One Man, One Vote." To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television. With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and an unpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within the movement are deepening... even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to risk everything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town called Selma.

Illustrator Winner

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by author and illustrator Javaka Steptoe

E840.8 .L43 A3 2016












Not in collection


Author Winner 

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles's half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven't spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that's been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

PZ7 .W6713 GON 2015

Illustrator Winner

Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews; illustrated by Bryan Collier

Hailing from the Tremâe neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.

ML3930 .A53 A3 2015


Author Winner 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

The author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South.

PS3573.O64524 Z46 2014

Illustrator Winner

Firebird by Misty Copeland; illustrated by Christopher Myers

American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland encourages a young ballet student, with brown skin like her own, by telling her that she, too, had to learn basic steps and how to be graceful when she was starting out, and that some day, with practice and dedication, the little girl will become a firebird, too. Includes author's note about dancers who led her to find her voice.

PZ7 .C7887 FIR 2014


Author Winner

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia

The Gaither sisters are back in Brooklyn, where changes large and small come to their household as they grow up during the turbulent 1960s.

PZ7 .W6713 PAAM 2013

Illustrator Winner

Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty; illustrated by Bryan Collier

A boy wakes up one morning to find his father gone. At first, he feels lost. But his father has left him a letter filled with advice to guide him through the times he cannot be there.

PZ7 .B3805475 KN 2013


Author Winner

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Presents the stories of ten African-American men from different eras in American history, organized chronologically to provide a scope from slavery to the modern day.

E185.86 .P56 2012

Illustrator Winner

I Too, Am America by Langston Hughesillustrated by Bryan Collier

Presents the popular poem by one of the central figures in the Harlem Renaissance, highlighting the courage and dignity of the African American Pullman porters in the early twentieth century.

PS3515 .U274 I3 2012


Author Winner

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by author Kadir Nelson

An simple introduction to African-American history, from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama.

E185 .N427 2011

Illustrator Winner

Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom by author and illustrator Shane W. Evans

Not in collection


Author Winner

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

PZ7 .W6713 ON 2010

Illustrator Winner 

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hillillustrated by Bryan Collier

Chronicles the life of Dave, a nineteenth-century slave who went on to become an influential poet, artist, and potter.

NK 4210 .D247 H55 2010


Author Winner

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

This biography profiles the life of Bass Reeves, a former slave who was recruited as a deputy United States Marshal in the area that was to become Oklahoma.

F697 .R44 N45 2009

Illustrator Winner

My People by Langston Hughes; illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr.

Hughes's spare yet eloquent tribute to his people has been cherished for generations. Now, acclaimed photographer Smith interprets this beloved poem in vivid sepia photographs that capture the glory, the beauty, and the soul of being a black American today.

PS3515 .U274 M9 2009


Author Winner

We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson

Using an "Everyman" player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through the decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. Illustrations from oil paintings by artist Kadir Nelson.

GV875 .A1 N45 2008

Illustrator Winner

The Blacker the Berry: Poems by Joyce Carol Thomas; illustrated by Floyd Cooper

A collection of poems, including "Golden Goodness," "Cranberry Red," and "Biscuit Brown," celebrating individuality and Afro-American identity.

PS3570 .H565 B53 2008


Author Winner

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American south, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family's freedom.

PZ7 .C94137 EL 2007

Illustrator Winner 

Let it Shine: Three Favorite Spirituals by author and illustrator Ashley Bryan

Illustrated versions of three well-known hymns.

BV353 .L48 2007


Author Winner

Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper

Two fifteen-year-old girls--one a slave and the other an indentured servant--escape their Carolina plantation and try to make their way to Fort Moses, Florida, a Spanish colony that gives sanctuary to slaves.

PZ7.D78325 COP 2006

Illustrator Winner

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Describes Tubman's spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her north to freedom on that very first trip to escape the brutal practice of forced servitude. Tubman would make nineteen subsequent trips back south, never being caught, but none as profound as this first one.

E444 .T82 W43 2006X


Author Winner

Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue by Julius Lester

Emma has taken care of the Butler children since Sarah and Frances's mother, Fanny, left. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, as a rift over slavery has ripped the Butler household apart. Now, to pay off debts, Pierce Butler wants to cash in his slave "assets", possibly including Emma.

PZ7 .L5629 DA 2005

Illustrator Winner

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni; illustrated by Bryan Collier

The story of Rosa Parks and her courageous act of defiance. Provides the story of the young black woman who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger in Alabama, setting in motion all the events of the Civil Rights Movements that resulted in the end of the segregated south, gave equality to blacks throughout the nation, and forever changed the country in which we all live today. She had not sought this moment but she was ready for it. When the policeman bent down to ask "Auntie, are you going to move?" all the strength of all the people through all those many years joined in her. She said, "No." An inspiring account of an event that shaped American history. Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This picture-book tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed. Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni's evocative text combines with Bryan Collier's striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective.

F334 .M753 P38427 2005


Author Winner

Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison has collected a treasure chest of archival photographs that depict the historical events surrounding school desegregation. These unforgettable images serve as the inspiration for Ms. Morrison's text--a fictional account of the dialogue and emotions of the children who lived during the era of "separate but equal" schooling. Remember is a unique pictorial and narrative journey that introduces children to a watershed period in American history and its relevance to us today. Remember will be published on the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ending legal school segregation, handed down on May 17, 1954.

LC214.2 .M67 2004

Illustrator Winner

Ellington was not a Street by Ntozake Shange; illustrated by Kadir Nelson

A close-knit group of Black innovators formed their own community in the early to mid-twentieth century. These men of vision lived at a time when the color of their skin dictated where they could live, what schools they could attend, and even where they could sit on a bus or in a movie theater.
Yet in the face of this tremendous adversity, these dedicated souls and others like them not only demonstrated the importance of Black culture in America, but also helped issue in a movement that changed the world. Their lives and their works inspire us to this day and serve as a guide to how we approach the challenges of tomorrow.

PS3569.H3324 E45 2004


Author Winner

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Bobby's carefree teenage life changes forever when he becomes a father and must care for his adored baby daughter.

PZ7.J629 FI 2003

Illustrator Winner

Beautiful Blackbird by author and illustrator Ashley Bryan

In a story of the Ila people, the colorful birds of Africa ask Blackbird, whom they think is the most beautiful of birds, to decorate them with some of his "blackening brew."

PZ8.1 .B838 BG 2003


Author Winner

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes

While studying the Harlem Renaissance, students at a Bronx high school read aloud poems they've written, revealing their innermost thoughts and fears to their formerly clueless classmates.

PZ7.G88429 BR 2002

Illustrator Winner

Talkin' about Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes; illustrated by E.B. Lewis

A biography of the first licensed female African American pilot.

TL540.C646 G75 2002


Author Winner

The Land by Mildred D. Taylor

After the Civil War Paul, the son of a white father and a black mother, finds himself caught between the two worlds of colored folks and white folks as he pursues his dream of owning land of his own.

PZ7.T21723 LAN 2001

Illustrator Winner

Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

In segregated 1950s Nashville, a young African American girl braves a series of indignities and obstacles to get to one of the few integrated places in town: the public library.

PZ7.M478693 GO 2001


Author Winner

Miracle's Boys by Jacqueline Woodson

Twelve-year-old Lafayette's close relationship with his older brother Charlie changes after Charlie is released from a detention home and blames Lafayette for the death of their mother.

PZ7.W868 MI 2000

Illustrator Winner

Uptown by author and illustrator Bryan Collier

A tour of the sights of Harlem, including the Metro-North Train, brownstones, shopping on 125th Street, a barber shop, summer basketball, the Boy's Choir, and sunset over the Harlem River.

PZ7.C67759 UP 2000


Author Winner

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father--the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.

PZ7.C94137 BU 1999

Illustrator Winner

In the Time of the Drums by Kim L. Siegelson; illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Mentu, an American-born slave boy, watches his beloved grandmother, Twi, lead the insurrection at Teakettle Creek of Ibo people arriving from Africa on a slave ship.

PZ7.S56657 IN 1999