The May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award

 2015 Arbuthnot Lecture  |  2016 Arbuthnot Lecture  |  About May Hill Arbuthnot

2015 Arbuthnot Lecture with Brian Selznick 

Photo of Brian SelznickLecture title: "Love Is a Dangerous Angel: Thoughts on Queerness and Family in Children's Books"
Friday, May 8th, 2015
7:00 pm (Doors open at 6:00pm)
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, DC

Reserve Tickets Here 

Read the press release announcing ticket availability

Read the press release announcing the lecturer

Read the press release announcing the host site


Host Location:
DC Public Library
Washington, DC

2016 Arbuthnot Lecture with Pat Mora 

Photo of Pat Mora and a collage of her books
The 2016 Arbuthnot Lecture will be delivered by Pat Mora. Pioneering author and literacy advocate Pat Mora has written more than three dozen books for young people that represent the Mexican American experience. 

Read the press release announcing the 2016 lecturer

Application Process to Host the 2016 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture

ALSC members are invited to submit their proposal to host the 2016 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture featuring Pat Mora. The application deadline is Friday, May 15, 2015.

Please download the overview document (MS Word) for details including the criteria the committee considers.  You may use this as a basis to create your draft proposal. 

The actual application should be submitted using the online form.


Originally established with funding from Scott Foresman to honor May Hill Arbuthnot, the lecture is now funded and administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association.

The selected site will host Pat Mora, a pioneering author and literacy advocate. Mora has written more than three dozen books for young people that represent the Mexican American experience. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Mora grew up bilingual and bicultural. With degrees in English and speech, she was a teacher and university administrator before writing children’s books. Known for her lyrical style, Mora’s poetry and prose have won numerous awards, including a 2005 Belpré Honor Medal for text for “Doña Flor: A Tall Tale of a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart,” published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, and illustrated by Raul Colón. Her generosity for sharing bookjoy, the phrase she coined for the power and pleasure of words, led Mora to launch “Día,” which will observe its 20th anniversary in 2016.

Criteria for selecting the host institution for the Arbuthnot Lecture

  • There is no single factor that prevails over any other factor in selecting the host institution for the Arbuthnot Honor Lecture.  Rather, the committee charged with the selection responsibility will consider a combination of factors, including:
  • Reasons for application. Special reasons for applying such as particular interest in the work of the lecturer; an applicant’s expression of the educational goals of his or her community; a special celebration, etc.
  • Site. The relation of a potential site to places and institutions that have previously acted as hosts with an emphasis on identifying varied sites from all of North America.
  • Facilities. The appropriateness, both in terms of capacity and accessibility.
  • Administrative support. The organizational and administrative capabilities of the person or group submitting an application evident in the enclosed proposed budget, and partly manifested in the presentation of the application itself. Please note that ALSC will contribute $2,000 in financial support to the host site selected.
  • Cooperation with other organizations. The extent to which meaningful cooperation among various local or area groups would suggest an ability to share responsibilities as to personnel, time, and money needed to cover local expenses.
  • Lecture visibility. Emphasis on the lecture as a distinctive event publicized to and open to all potential attendees in the region is a priority for each Arbuthnot Lecture.

Responsibilities of the host institution

  • To act as host for the May Hill Arbuthnot Lectureship in April or early May 2016, the date to be arranged at the mutual convenience of the lecturer and the host institution.
  • To arrange and pay for the local expenses of the lecturer.  If a display of the lecturer's published works (e.g., books, articles, etc.) is arranged, it will be at the host's expense, not the lecturer's. The Arbuthnot Fund covers only the honorarium ($5,000) and travel expenses for the lecturer to and from the host city.
  • To arrange and pay for a reception, dinner, or other hospitality honoring the speaker following the lecture and to pay for all local lodging, meals, taxis, etc. of the lecturer.  As mentioned above, ALSC will contribute $2,000 to the selected host site to be used to offset expenses.
  • To prepare and distribute regional publicity. ALA will issue national press releases.  Further local and regional publicity is the responsibility of the host institution, including production of any print program or other promotional materials.
  • The lecturer is not to be invited to give any talks the week preceding the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture at the host institution or in the immediate vicinity.  The lecturer is responsible for presenting the Arbuthnot Lecture only.  If applicable, autographing and sale of books may be arranged with the publisher by the host institution.  Any other programs/events (other than those promoting the lecture) must be arranged with the lecturer's publisher(s) or agent, must be arranged with the lecturer's knowledge and permission, must be funded separately, and must occur no sooner than one day following the lecture. All programs/events/activities must appear on a master schedule available in advance to the committee chair, the Association for Library Service to Children office, and the lecturer.

Please complete your application using the online form by May 15, 2015

About May Hill Arbuthnot 

photo of may hill arbuthnotMay Hill Arbuthnot (1884-1969) was born in Mason City, IA, and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1922, receiving her master's degree in 1924 from Columbia University. Along with educator William Scott Gray, she created and wrote the Curriculum Foundation Readers— better known as the "*** and Jane" series—for children published by Scott, Foresman and Company (now Pearson Scott Foresman).

Her greatest contribution to children's literature, however, was her authorship of Children and Books, the first edition of which was published in 1947. In 1927, she joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University, and there she met and married Charles Arbuthnot, an economics professor. She also served as editor of both Childhood Education and Elementary English. Her other works include The Arbuthnot Anthology of Children's Literature and Children's Books Too Good to Miss

To link Arbuthnot's name with an oratory award makes perfect sense. When accepting the award in 1969, she recalled "that long stretch of years when I was dashing from one end of the country to the other, bringing children and books together by way of the spoken word."  She also affirmed, "I am a strong believer in the efficacy of direct speech.... a forthright vigorous lecture can set fire to a piece of literature that had failed to come to life from the printed page." She was thrilled at the prospect of this award providing a forum for "new voices speaking with new insight and new emphasis in the field of children's lectures." (Quote from The Arbuthnot Lectures, 1970-79, ALA/ALSC, 1980.)

The lecturer, announced annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, may be an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children's literature, of any country, who shall prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children's literature. Once the name is made public, institutions wishing to host the lecture may apply. A library school, department of education in college or university, or a children's library system may be considered. This paper is delivered as a lecture each April, and is subsequently published in Children & Libraries, the journal of the Association for Library Service to Children. ALSC established the lecture series in 1969 with sponsorship from Scott, Foresman and Company. The lectureship is now funded by the ALSC May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Endowment, and administered by ALSC.

Arbuthnot Award Manual (Word)
Arbuthnot Award Manual (PDF)
Policy for Service on the Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Committee (Word)

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