ALSC originally established the lecture series in 1969 as the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award with sponsorship from Scott, Foresman and Company. The lecture was named for her because of her significant contributions to the children’s literature field. (A brief biography of May Hill Arbuthnot appears below.)
The award was renamed as the Children's Literature Lecture by the ALSC Board of Directors in January 2020. The purpose of the award remains the same: a lecture series that celebrates scholarship and critical thinking about literature for children, which are ever evolving. The new award name expands upon May Hill Arbuthnot’s professional legacy and celebrates the many voices and perspectives that all lecturers bring to this Award. In her own words, Arbuthnot was thrilled at the prospect of this award providing a forum for "new voices speak[ing] with new insight and new emphasis in the field of children's literature."* Essentially, the Children's Literature Lecture Award centers on the distinction of its recipients, whose diverse voices and perspectives are necessary to broaden our understanding of and appreciation for children’s literature.
About May Hill Arbuthnot
May 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 "Dick and Jane" series—for children, published by Scott, Foresman and Company.