Pura Belpré Award

About the Pura Belpré Award
The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented 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.

The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented 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 the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA), an ALA affiliate.

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children's librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the U.S.A. through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore.

It is now an annual award.  It was a biennial award from its inaugural year in 1996 through 2008. 

Administered by:

Association for Library Service to Children logo

Award and Frequency

This award is given out on an annual basis.

Eligibility

  1. Two medals shall be awarded biennially at the Annual Conference of the American Library Association, one to a Latino author and one to a Latino illustrator, for creating outstanding original children's books that portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.
  2. The award-winning books must be published in the United States or Puerto Rico.
  3. Recipients of the Pura Belpré Medal must be residents or citizens of the United States or Puerto Rico.
  4. The committee in its deliberations is to consider only the books eligible for the award, as specified in the terms.
  5. Fiction and nonfiction books for children published in Spanish, English, or bilingual format are eligible.
  6. Honor books may be named.
  7. If suitable candidates are not found, the awards will not be presented in that year.

Applicant Responsibility

To accept the Medal or Honor Plaque and make brief remarks at the Belpre Celebracion held at ALA's Annual Conference.

Application Instructions

How to submit books for consideration for the Belpré Award:

  • Review the terms and criteria for the award.
  • Please download and complete a Submission Form for each entry.
  • Mail one copy of the book and a completed submission form to the ALSC office (ATTN: Belpré Submission, 50 East Huron, Chicago, IL 60611-2795).
  • Mail one copy of the book and a completed submission form to the Cultural Competency Consultant (Oralia Garze de Cortes, ATTN: Belpré Submission, 1901 Running Brook Dr., Austin, TX 78723).
  • Mail one copy of the work and a completed submission form to the award committee chair. Address information can be found on the Submission Form
  • ALSC membership is not a requirement to submit your work and there is not an entry fee for the Belpré Award.

Please note:

The ALSC office is only requesting for one copy to be sent to the ALSC office and one copy to the committee chair. Standards are in place for the committee members to review and share submissions. If you are submitting for multiple awards, only one copy needs to be sent to the ALSC office.

Neither the ALSC office nor the committee chair can confirm receipt of submissions. If you would like to confirm receipt of your submission please use a mailing service with delivery confirmation. Submissions that are dropped off in- person to the ALSC office will not be accepted.

The ALSC office cannot answer eligibility questions or advise on which award your submission is eligible for. It is up to you to review the terms and criteria and if you feel you qualify, submit as appropriate. Eligibility is determined by the committee and is confidential.

The book and media awards are announced each year at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in January. The materials received by the ALSC office throughout the year will be used for ALSC’s Bookapalooza Program. The Bookapalooza Program selects three libraries to receive a Bookapalooza collection of these materials to be used in a way that creatively enhances their library service to children and families.

Deadline for submitting books is December 31 of the publication year.

Contact Information

If you need more information, feel free to contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail: library@ala.org; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.

Selection Criteria

CRITERIA FOR TEXT

  1. In identifying the author of an "outstanding" book for children, in addition to looking for an accurate and positive portrayal of the Latino culture, the committee members need to consider the following:  
  • Interpretation of the theme or concept.
  • Development of a plot.
  • Delineation of Characters.
  • Delineation of setting.
  • Appropriateness of style.
  • Note: Because the literary qualities to be considered will vary depending on content, the committee need not expect to find excellence in each of the above named elements. The book should, however, have distinguished qualities in all of the pertinent elements.
  • Committee members must consider excellence of presentation for a child audience
  1. In considering a book, the committee is to make its decision primarily on the text. Other aspects of a book are to be considered only if they distract from the text. Such other aspects might include illustrations, overall design of the book, etc.
  2. The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media (i.e., sound or film equipment) for its enjoyment.
  3. In selecting a book, the committee should keep in mind that the award is for both literary quality and presentation for children, as well as for its portrayal of the Latino cultural experience.
  4. Particular attention will be paid to the "insider's voice" and cultural authenticity.

CRITERIA FOR ILLUSTRATIONS

  1. In identifying the illustrator of an outstanding picture book for children, committee members need to consider the following:
  • Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.
  • Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.
  • Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme, or concept.
  • Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood, or information through the pictures.
  • Positive and authentic portrayal of Latino culture.
  • Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.
  1. The only limitation to graphic form is that the form must be one which may be used in a picture book. The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media (i.e., sound or film equipment) for its enjoyment.
  2. Each book is to be considered as a picture book. The committee is to make its decision primarily on the illustration, but other components of a book are to be considered, especially when they make a book less effective as a children's picture book. Such other components might include the written text, the overall design of the book, etc.
  3. The committee should keep in mind that the award is for both distinguished illustrations in a picture book and for excellence of pictorial presentation for children, and for the positive portrayal of the Latino cultural heritage.
  4. Particular attention will be paid to the "insider's voice" and cultural authenticity.