The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.
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Look back at our 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards from 2019.
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2020 Author Winner
The 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Author Winner is Jerry Craft, author of "New Kid". “New Kid” published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, tells the story of Jordan Banks, an artistic Black middle school student who has transferred from public school to an elite, predominantly White private school and must contend not only with typical middle school challenges but also with microaggressions and code-switching. Told in a graphic novel format, Jordan’s experiences are rendered highly accessible to young people and include his own doodles, journal entries and handbooks for middle school students.
Author and Illustrator Jerry Craft creates impactful picture books, middle grade and graphic novels, and comics. He has won five African American literary awards and has co-founded Schomburg’s prestigious Annual Black Comic Book Festival. Born in New York City, Craft lives in Norwalk, CT.
2020 Illustrator Winner
The 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Illustrator Winner is Kadir Nelson, illustrator of "The Undefeated" written by Kwame Alexander and published by Versity, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. "The Undefeated" is an emotional deep dive into the unapologetic brilliance of the Black experience in the face of unspeakable injustice. Capturing the excellence of iconic figures in Black history, as well as the known and unknown victims of brutality, this book showcases the raw humanity of generations of determination and will. Themes of survival, hope, and resilience permeate in this masterful picture book,
Kadir Nelson is the author and illustrator of numerous titles, as well as the illustrator of several commemorative postage stamps. Nelson is a two-time Caldecott Honor Award winner. He received an NAACP Image Award for the book Just the Two of Us. For his book, We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, he received the 2008 CASEY Award for best baseball book, the 2009 Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award.
2020 John Steptoe Award for New Talent (Author)
The 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Awards John Steptoe Award for New Talent Author goes to Alicia D. Williams for “Genesis Begins Again,” published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book. There are 96 things that Genesis hates about herself, and her dark skin is at the top of the list. Genesis tries to hold her family together as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Williams’ authentic youthful storytelling explores how Genesis navigates poverty, family relationships, bullying, and overcomes the feelings of self-hate due to the trauma of colorism.
Alicia Williams is a graduate of the MFA program at Hamline University. An oral storyteller in the African American tradition, she is also a teacher who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Genesis Begins Again is her debut novel.
2020 John Steptoe Award for New Talent (Illustrator)
The 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Awards John Steptoe Award for New Talent Illustrator is April Harrison for “What Is Given from the Heart,” published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Harrison’s soft illustrations, a mix of collage and acrylic painting, tell the story of James who knows what it’s like to have very little. When his close friend Sarah’s family loses all they own in a fire, he struggles to come up with a suitable gift to give her. The carefully pieced together illustrations and earthy tones are a suitable pairing for this tale that reminds the reader that a gift that comes from the heart is always priceless
2020 Author Honor Books
“Look Both Ways,” by Jason Reynolds, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book.
“The Stars and the Blackness Between Them,” by Junauda Petrus, and published by Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
“Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky,” by Kwame Mbalia, and published by Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group.
2020 Illustrator Honor Books
“The Bell Rang,” illustrated and written by James E. Ransome and published by Atheneum Books For Young Readers, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book
“Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace” illustrated and written by Ashley Bryan and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book.
“Sulwe,” illustrated by Vashti Harrison and written by Lupita Nyong’o, and published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.
Read the complete press release to the 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Winners and Honors here.
2020 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement (Author and/or Illustrator)
Mildred D. Taylor, is the recipient of the 2020 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. Born in Mississippi in 1943 and raised in Ohio, Taylor resides in Colorado. “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” won the 1977 Newbery Award and a Coretta Scott King Book Award honor. Taylor received the international 2003 inaugural NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature. Her books earned national recognition including four CSK author awards and two author honors. Her 2020 Logan family series conclusion “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come” continues addressing systemic injustice, entrenched inequality and the roots of racism.
The Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement is named in memory of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. In even years (i.e. 2017, 2018, 2020…), the award is presented to an African American author, illustrator or author/illustrator for a body of his or her published books for children and/or young adults, and who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution.