Contact: Naomi Caldwell, Chair
AILA Book Award committee


For Immediate Release
January 15. 2008

2008 American Indian Youth Literature Award

PHILADEPHIA - The American Indian Library Association (AILA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), is pleased to announce the recipients of its American Indian Youth Literature Award. This new literary award was created as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. Books selected to receive the award present Native Americans in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.

The award is presented in each of three categories-picture book, middle school, and young adult-and each winner receives $500 and a custom-made beaded medallion, which will be presented at a ticketed event during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA. See the AILA web site for more detailed information about the books, authors and award event. see the AILA web site

"We are grateful to have this opportunity to honor authors and illustrators who best portray Native American culture for young readers,” Naomi Caldwell, Chair, AILA American Indian Youth Literature Award committee.   We celebrate the official recognition American Indian literature for youth. "

Picture Book

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridge. Cinco Puntos Press, 2006.

A beautifully inspired story of a friendship between Martha Tom, a Choctaw girl and Li' Mo, a slave boy and how their relationship brought wholeness and freedom to Mo's family and also to many slaves.  Bridge's illustrations enhance the story by resonating the joy of friendship, the light of faith, and the leadership of children.

Middle School

Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond, by Joseph Medicine Crow. National Geographic, 2006.

This appealing autobiography of Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow (Absarokee) is a winner with the young and old.  The author recounts his adventures and training as a traditional Crow warrior and his service as a decorated World War II veteran.  Walk, run and ride with him as you learn first-hand

about real-life on the Crow reservation before during and after encounters with newcomers. In a text that is not preachy, but and honest read, Joseph Medicine Crow tell how he over came many challenges to fulfill is role as Chief of the Crow Nation.

Young Adult

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Little Brown Publishers, 2007.

A realistic, bitter-sweet yet, humorous look at the life of Arnold, a Spokane Indian teenager making his way in life on the reservation while attending an all white high school.  Alexie brings to life the challenges many young native people experience as they learn to navigate and balance Indian life in a modern world.  Part autobiography, Alexie's Arnold reminds us of the complexities of coming of age, bigotry, bullies, loyalty to family and the meaning of love.

To register to attend the presentation of the American Indian Youth Literature Award, please visit the AILA or ALA Web site.

In the near future an American Indian Youth Literature Award free downloadable bookmark and brochure will be made available on the AILA Web site at and the ALA OLOS Web site.

Members of the American Indian Youth Literature Award are: Naomi Caldwell, chair, GSLIS, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I.; Carlene Engstrom, D’Arcy McNickle Library, Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Mont.; and Gabriella Kaye, Mashantucket, Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket, CT., Lisa A. Mitten, Choice Magazine, Sarah Kostelecky, Institute of American Indian Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cindy Carrywater, Montana State Library Commission, and Jolena Tillequots, School Library Media Specialist, Yakima Nation.