This award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually 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) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.
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) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), divisions 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.
The award is now given annually. It was given as a biennial award from 1996 through 2008. Beginning with the 2021 award, the Young Adult Author category was added with YALSA's partnership.
Rosen Publishing has released a beautiful publication that pays tribute to the Pura Belpré Award in honor of the award's 20th anniversary. This publication features book covers, synopses, an introduction written by Oralia Garza de Cortés and Sandra Ríos Balderrama, co-founders of the award and a lovely collection of essays from previous and present award recipients that convey the significance of the award for each winner.
“We thought of it as a reference tool, something that will be in school libraries, public libraries, and the classroom and that teachers and librarians can share with all their students, Latino and non-Latino students, but also that the Latino students would feel proud to see so much talent reflected in one book.”—Teresa Mlawer (co-editor of The Pura Belpré Award: 20 Years of Outstanding Latino Children’s Literature) in American Libraries Magazine, October 14, 2015
In celebration of the Belpré Award's 20th anniversary in 2016, TeachingBooks.net offers a searchable database of more than 1,000 online Belpré resources, including author interviews, lesson plans, book trailers, text complexity rubrics and more—all available free through this link. Visitors to the site can hear directly from Latino/Latina authors and illustrators as they talk about and read from their books.
Support the Belpré Award Endowment through donations or purchases of the following resources:
The Storyteller's Candle / La velita de los cuentos
by Lucía González, illustrated by Lulu Delacre
Children's Book Press, 2008
Thanks to the generosity of author and 2021-2022 ALSC President Lucía González, proceeds from the sale of The Storyteller's Candle benefit ALSC's Pura Belpré Award Endowment!
The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian for the New York Public Library, who as a children's librarian, author, and storyteller enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the United States through her pioneer work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore stories.
- Two medals shall be awarded annually at the Annual Conference of the American Library Association, one to a Latino author of an outstanding children’s book and one to a Latino illustrator for creating an outstanding children’s picture book. Each of these must be an original work that portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.
- The award-winning books must be published in the United States or Puerto Rico during the preceding year.
- Recipients of the Pura Belpré medal must be residents or citizens of the United States or Puerto Rico.
- The committee in its deliberations is to consider only the books eligible for the award, as specified in the terms.
- Fiction and nonfiction books for children published in Spanish, English, or bilingual formats are eligible.
- Honor books may be named.
- If suitable candidates are not found, the awards will not be presented in that year.
- Author of an outstanding children’s book indicates the creator of the text of a book. It also implies that the committee shall consider all forms of writing—fiction, non-fiction, and poetry—that have the Latino cultural experience as a theme. Reprints and compilations are not eligible.
- A “children’s book” shall be a book for which children are an intended potential audience. The book must display respect for children’s understandings, abilities and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including 14, and books for this entire age range are to be considered.
- A “children’s picture book,” as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a collective unity of story line, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which the book is comprised.
- “Outstanding” is defined as
- marked by eminence and distinction; noted for significant achievement.
- marked by excellence in quality.
- marked by conspicuous excellence or eminence.
- individually distinct.
- Author may include co-authors. The author(s) may be awarded the medal posthumously. In the case where the co-author is not of Latino heritage, the book is ineligible for consideration.
- Illustrator may include co-illustrators. The artist(s) may be awarded the medal posthumously. In the case where the co-illustrator is not of Latino heritage, the book is ineligible for consideration.
- One person may be selected to receive the awards in both categories.
- In defining the term, “original work,” the committee may consider books that are traditional in origin, if the book is the result of original research and the retelling and interpretation are the writer’s own.
- Children’s books “published in the United States or Puerto Rico,” means that books originally published in other countries are not eligible.
- “Published in the preceding year” means that the book has a publication date in the year under consideration, was available for purchase in that year, and has a copyright date no later than that year. An eligible book may have a copyright date prior to the year under consideration if it was not published until the year under consideration. The intent: that every eligible book be considered, but that no book be considered in more than one year.
- “Resident” specifies that author has established and maintained residence in the United States, or Puerto Rico, as distinct from being a casual or occasional visitor.
- For purposes of this award, “Latino” is defined as people whose heritage emanates from any of the Spanish-speaking cultures of the world.
- The term “only the books eligible for the award” specifies that the committee is not to consider the entire body of work by an author or whether the author has previously won the award. The committee’s decision is to be made following deliberation about eligible books published in the preceding year.
Criteria for text
- 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
- Presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization
- 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 elements pertinent.
- Excellence of presentation for an intended child audience.
- 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.
- The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media (i.e., digital, sound or film equipment) for its enjoyment.
- 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.
- Particular attention will be paid to cultural authenticity.
Criteria for Illustrations
- 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 for an intended child audience
- 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., digital, sound or film equipment) for its enjoyment.
- Each book is to be considered as a picture book. The committee is to make its decision primarily on the illustrations. 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.
- The committee should keep in mind that the award is for both distinguished illustrations in picture book and for excellence of pictorial presentation for children, and for the positive portrayal of the Latino cultural heritage.
- Particular attention will be paid to cultural authenticity.
Please visit http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/coms (scroll down to Priority Group - Awards) for an up to date list of committee members.
- Belpré Medal Manual (PDF)
- Policy for Service on ALSC Award committees
- Frequently asked questions regarding policy for service
- Awards Diversity and Inclusion Discussion with Kathleen T. Horning- This discussion took place at the 2015 ALA conference in San Francisco with Kathleen Horning and the 2016 Chairs of the ALSC Awards and Notable Children's Lists Committees.
How to submit books for consideration for the Belpré Award:
- Complete the award submission for each entry.
- Review the terms and criteria and the committee manual for a comprehensive overview of the Belpré Award process.
- Mail one copy of the work to the award committee chair and Cultural Competency Consultant. Address information can be found after completing the submission form (see first bullet above).
- Submit a Belpré Award Submission: Information Verification form for each book submitted for the Belpré, so the committee can verify eligibility.
- The deadline for submitting works is December 31, 2023.
- ALSC membership is not a requirement to submit your work and there is not an entry fee for the Belpré Award.
The ALSC office requests that one title be mailed to the committee chair and the Cultural Competency Consultant. Standards are in place for the committee members to review and share submissions.
Neither the ALSC office nor the committee chair can confirm receipt of submissions. If you would like to confirm delivery receipt of your submission please use a tracking number for your package. 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 their discussions are confidential.
The book and media awards are announced each year at ALA’s LibLearnX meeting in January.
Deadline for submitting books is December 31 of the publication year.