Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

Photo of Virginia Hamilton

The Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement is named in memory of beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. The annual award is presented in even years 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. The recipient of the inaugural award was Walter Dean Myers in 2010.

In odd years, the award is presented to a practitioner for substantial contributions through active engagement with youth using award winning African American literature for children and/or young adults, via implementation of reading and reading related activities/programs. Dr. Henrietta M. Smith was the recipient of the first practitioner award in 2011.

A medal and check for $1,500 is presented to the winner during the Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast at the ALA Annual Conference.

Virginia Hamilton was an award-winning author of children's books. She wrote more than 35 books throughout her career, including “M. C. Higgins, the Great,” for which she won the 1975 Newbery Medal. During her lifetime, Ms. Hamilton received numerous awards including the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.


Author/Illustrator Selection Criteria (.pdf)

Practitioner Selection Criteria (.pdf)

Nomination form

Previous Recipients


Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita at The Ohio State University


Jerry Pinkney, Artist and illustrator

Deborah D. Taylor, Coordinator of School and Student Services, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore 
Demetria Tucker, Family and youth services librarian for the Pearl Bailey Library, a branch of the Newport News (Va.) Public Library System
Ashley Bryan, Storyteller, artist, author, poet, and musician
Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith, Professor emerita at the University of South Florida, Tampa, School of Library and Information Science 
2010 (Inaugural Year)