Volume 27, Number 1, Spring 2005

New Award Recognized Authors and Illustrators Who Portray Children's Experiences with Disabilities

In 2003, Katherine Schneider, an NLS patron for 45 years, and her family established the Schneider Family Book Awards through ALA to honor authors and illustrators of books for teenage and younger readers that portray children’s experiences with disabilities—physical, mental, or emotional. That experience may include living with personal disabilities or with those of family members or friends.

Award recipients are selected in three categories: grade school (up to 10 years old), middle school (age 11-13) and teens (age 13-18). Each recipient receives $5,000 and a framed plaque, presented during the ALA Annual Conference.

2004 winners included:

  • Grade school: Glenna Lang, author and illustrator of Looking Out for Sarah (Charlesbridge Publishing)
  • Middle school: Wendy Mass for A Mango-shaped Space (Little, Brown Children’s Publishing)
  • High school: Andrew Clements, author of Things Not Seen (Philomel Books)
2005 awards announced at ALA Midwinter in Boston include:
  • Grade school: Diane Gonzales Bertrand, author, and Robert L. Sweetland, for My Pal, Victor (Raven Tree Press)
  • Middle school: Pam Munoz Ryan for Becoming Naomi Leon (Scholastic)
  • High school: Samantha Abeel, for My Thirteenth Summer: A Memoir (Orchard Books)
Schneider is currently a senior psychologist and coordinator of training at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Counseling Service. She started receiving Braille books from the Library of Congress at nine years of age and talking books soon after that. An avid book lover ever since, she described librarians as “superheroes”—not only for sending her Braille and recorded books, but also for steering her to information she longed to discover. She read, for example, most of the World Book Encyclopedia when it was first published in Braille in 1959. Now she roams the Internet.

Through the awards, Schneider seeks to encourage the writing of children’s books about disabilities by recognizing their authors and illustrators, partly because very few such books were available when she was growing up.

Nominations for recommended titles are due December 1, 2005, to: ALA Awards Program, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. For further information, visit the ALA Web site.