Welcome to the Pura Belpré Award home page!

pura belpre medal

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate. 

2020 Author Award Winner  

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, written by Carlos Hernandez and published by Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe brings us a story about thirteen-year-old magician Sal Vidón as he moves to Florida where he meets Gabi Reál, an aspiring journalist and student council president. Together they try to solve the mystery of how Sal “breaks the universe” and why they are the only ones who can see the hole.

“Carlos Hernandez takes us on a rollicking adventure with Sal and Gabi that spans multiple universes and challenges our understanding of dimensions,” said Peterson.

2020 Illustrator Award Winner

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Margarita Engle, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln is a story about Venezuelan born Teresa Carreño who started playing the piano as a very young girl and was writing songs by age six. Forced to flee Venezuela, she moved to New York, traveled to other cities to play the piano, and was invited to play for President Abraham Lincoln. 

“Creating a sense of time and place through the use of colors and mixed media, Rafael López brings the story of Teresa Carreño to life,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Maria X. Peterson.   


2020 Author Honor Books

Lety Out Loud, written by Angela Cervantes and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Lety Out Loud introduces readers to a variety of immigrant experiences through Lety Muñoz, an English language learner who spends the summer volunteering at an animal shelter. Although initially hesitant to speak out, Lety learns to use her voice to stand up for others.

The Other Half of Happy, written by Rebecca Balcárcel and published by Chronicle Books. 

As Quijana enters seventh grade, she feels in between, grappling with a new school, new friends, and her half-Guatemalan heritage. She struggles to find her place within her friendships and family, stumbling and succeeding on her path to discovering her authentic self.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, written by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar, and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. 

In this inspiring picture book biography, Denise lyrically shares the life and work of librarian, storyteller, author and library advocate Pura Belpré. Following her from Puerto Rico to her new life in Nueva York, Denise’s text captures Belpré’s lifelong passion for storytelling and public libraries.

Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS. 

The story of Mexican American activist and World War I soldier José de la Luz Sáenz is told with exquisite detail in this picture book biography. His struggle against racism and injustice in early 20th century Texas is presented in a concise but thorough manner, complemented by extensive notes.


2020 Illustrator Honor Books

Across the Bay, illustrated and written by Carlos Aponte and published by Penguin Workshop, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

In this book, Carlitos lives happily with his mother and abuela in Cataño, a ferry ride away from Old San Juan. As Carlitos wonders about his father’s life away from them, he journeys to the city. Over the course of his search, Carlitos encounters the vibrant sights and sounds of the city. 

My Papi Has a Motorcycle, illustrated by Zeke Peña, written by Isabel Quintero, and published by Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Daisy’s father is a carpenter who comes from work in the evening to take her on an electrifying motorcycle ride where she gets to see her grandparents’ yellow house, the church, and also other carpenters at her dad’s work as well as the changes in her busy Latinx neighborhood.

¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market, illustrated and written by Raúl Gonzalez and published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Little Lobo and his dog, Bernabé, make their rounds in a bustling border town market in this charming story that is sprinkled with Spanish and cultural references throughout. There is always more to see and do at el mercado, so let’s go because you never know who you’ll find there.

Members of the 2020 Pura Belpré Award Selection Committee are:  Chair Maria X. Peterson, Chicago Public Library; Linda Caycedo, Forest Hills, N.Y.; Alexandra Gomez, New York Public Library/BookOps, Long Island City, N.Y.; Guadalupe Leyva, Los Angeles Public Library; Pat Toney, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library; and Mercedes Zabawa, Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Public Library.

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