The purpose of the Children’s Literature Legacy Award is to recognize an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have over a period of years made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences. The recipient is announced in January and presented with an award citation in June during the ALA Annual Conference.
The Children’s Literature Legacy Award shall be awarded every year to an author or illustrator whose work, published in the United States, has over a period of years made a substantial contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity, and respect for all children’s lives and experiences.
- The term “author or illustrator” can mean co-authors or co-illustrators, and persons who both write and illustrate. The person may be nominated posthumously. Some portion of the nominee’s active career in books for children must have occurred in the twenty-five years prior to nomination. Citizenship or residence of the potential nominee is not to be considered.
- “Books” means more than one book.
- “Published in the United States” does not indicate that first publication had to be in the United States. It means that children’s books written and/or illustrated by the nominee have been published in the United States, and it is those books which are to be considered in the nomination process.
- “Over a period of years” means that at least some of the books by the potential nominee have been available to children for at least ten years. Out-of-print books may be considered as part of the nominee’s contribution.
- “A substantial and lasting contribution” means that the books, by their nature (and/or number), occupy an important place in literature for American children and that over the years children have read the books and that the books continue to be read by children.
- Books that “demonstrate integrity, and respect for all children’s lives and experiences,” means that the books, regardless of when they were published, should not diminish or denigrate any individual or group through stereotypes, whitewashing, or other derogatory content. The committee should evaluate works with the consideration of all children in mind rather than privileging the dominant culture to the exclusion of others. While the works of individual nominees do not have to include racially and culturally diverse characters, they should not disrespect or discredit diverse lives, experiences and histories.
- The term “literature for children” indicates that the committee is to direct its attention only to the part of the potential nominee’s total work that is intended for children (up to and including age fourteen). It further indicates that the committee is to select on the basis of the literary or artistic merit of the books for children.
- In addition to the criteria implicit in the terms and definitions, the committee may wish to consider whether:
- Some or all of the books are exceptionally outstanding and leading examples of the genre to which they belong.
- Some or all of the books have established trends, or have been a leading force behind new trends in children’s books.
- Other awards (such as Newbery or Caldecott) should not be considered when nominating authors or illustrators for the Legacy Award. All candidates who have made a lasting contribution are eligible.
- The committee, in making its selection of nominees, should be aware of the author’s or illustrator’s entire body of work, and may base its decision for nomination on the total body of work for children, or on those portions of the total body of work which are of a substantial and lasting nature.