ATLANTA – Nikki Grimes is the winner of the 2017 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. Her numerous works include “Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman” and “Danitra Brown, Class Clown.”
The award was announced today, during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Atlanta, Georgia. The award is administered annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA, and is named for its first recipient in 1954.
“Nikki Grimes’s work exemplifies literary excellence and recognizes the power of language and imagination to inspire and affirm the experiences of all children,” said Wilder Award Committee Chair Starr LaTronica.
Born and raised in New York City, Nikki began composing verse at the age of six and has been writing ever since that time. At the age of 13, she gave her first poetry reading, at the Countee Cullen Library in Harlem, a block away from where she was born. Since that time, she has published more than 40 novels, picture books, biographies and poetry for a wide range of ages. She lives in Corona, Calif.
Nikki Grimes’s award-winning works include “Bronx Masquerade,” which won the Coretta Scott King Author Award in 2003 and “Words with Wings,” the recipient of a Coretta Scott King Author Honor in 2014. In addition, Grimes received the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award in 2016 and the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 2006.
Nikki Grimes’s thoughtful and emotionally powerful works acknowledge the complex realities of today’s children. She uses a variety of poetic forms: free verse, tanka, haiku, linked and paired poems reflect the African-American experience while celebrating universal themes of family, identity, empathy, friendship, and community. Her poetry is smart, funny, heart-wrenching, and satisfying. It is empowering, nurturing readers’ imagination, and encouraging children to find their own means of self-expression.
In the three books about Danitra Brown, a splendiferous girl bursts off the page though the eyes of her best friend. The everyday setting of the classroom becomes extraordinary when the irrepressible Danitra Brown is around. “She doesn’t mind what people say, she always does things here own way.”
Members of the 2017 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee are Chair Starr La Tronica, Brooks Memorial Library, Brattleboro, Vermont; Julie A. Corsaro, William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.; Robin L. Gibson, Westerville (Ohio) Public Library; Luann Toth, School Library Journal, New York; and Virginia A. Walter, University of California, Los Angeles.
ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their website at www.ala.org/alsc.
For more information on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and other ALA literary awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.