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The Children's Literature Legacy Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children's lives and experiences.

Mildred Taylor wins 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award

photo of Mildred TaylorMildred D. Taylor is the winner of the 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a significant and lasting contribution to literature for children. Her numerous works include “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” (Dial, 1976) and “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come” (Dial, 2020).

The award was announced today, during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, held virtually Jan. 22-26. The award is administered annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA. 

“Taylor’s storytelling shows how courage, dignity, and family love endure amidst racial injustice and continues to enlighten hearts and minds of readers through the decades.” said Children’s Literature Legacy Award Committee Chair Dr. Junko Yokota.

Mildred Taylor was born in Mississippi, grew up in Ohio, and now lives in Colorado. A childhood of listening to family stories told by her father and uncles at the Mississippi family homestead guided her journey in becoming a writer. Winning the competition of the Council of Interracial Books for Children meant having her first book published. Weaving elements from her family history, Taylor’s lifelong work has been the telling of the Logan family saga.

Taylor’s award-winning works include “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry”, which won the 1977 Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Honor Award; “The Friendship,” “Road to Memphis,” and “The Land”, all recipients of the Coretta Scott King Award. In addition to numerous awards for individual books, Mildred Taylor is the 2020 recipient of the Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The Logan family saga is told across  10 books that span generations. Grounded in family loyalty and love, each generation faces seemingly unsurmountable challenges yet meets them with resilience. Powerful stories tell the impact of racism and are presented in the details of day-to-day bullying and injustices such as the denial of human rights, legalized segregation, civil rights, and more. Taylor's stories are important for readers today so that we may understand how the past influences our present and can influence the future. But most importantly, themes of family, love, friendships, and perseverance prevail. Mildred Taylor has influenced decades of readers. 2018 ALSC Legacy Award winner Jacqueline Woodson states that she is a writer because she read Mildred Taylor’s books.    

Members of the 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award Committee are: Chair Dr. Junko Yokota, Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books, Chicago; Betsy Ramsey Bird, Evanston Public Library, Evanston, Illinois; Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, Minnesota; Celia Dillon, Brearley School Library, New York, New York; Jonathan Hunt, San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego, California.