Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award for New Talent

About the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe Award for New Talent
The award is established to affirm new talent and to offer visibility to excellence in writing and/or illustration which otherwise might be formally unacknowledged within a given year within the structure of the two awards given annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee.
These books affirm new talent and offer visibility to excellence in writing or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published book creator.

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Award and Frequency

A plaque and an acceptance speech at the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Breakfast at ALA Annual Conference.

This award is given out on an annual basis.


1. Author or illustrator must live in the U.S. or maintain dual residency/citizenship.
2. The book must be published in the range of January - December 1 of the year preceding the year the award is given as indicated by the copyright date printed in the book.

3. The winner(s)' published works cannot exceed three in number.

4. An author or illustrator who has already received or has just been selected to win one of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards in the current year is not eligible for the John Steptoe Award for New Talent.

5. An author may receive this award one time.

Applicant Responsibility

 Awardees are expected to attend Coretta Scott King Book Awards Breakfast during ALA Annual Conference to deliver acceptance speech.

Application Instructions

Review the guidelines and submit the online application.

Contact Information

Displaying active committee roster as of 09/29/2023. Last retrieved on 09/29/2023. Members can log in and refresh page to view full contact information for committee members.

Selection Criteria

   1. Must portray some aspect of the African American experience, past, present, or future.
   2. Must be written/illustrated by a African American.
   3. Must be published in the U.S. in the year preceding presentation of the Award.
   4. Must be original work
   5. Must be written for a youth audience in one of the three categories:
          * Preschool–grade 4
          * Grades 5–8
          * Grades 9–12
   6. Must meet established standards of quality writing for youth which include:
          * Clear plot
          * Well-drawn characters which portray growth and development during the course of the story
          * Writing style which is consistent with and suitable to the age intended
          * Accuracy
   7. Particular attention will be paid to titles that seek to motivate readers to develop their own attitudes and behaviors as well as comprehend their personal duty and responsibility as citizens in a pluralistic society.
   8. Illustrations should reflect established qualitative standards and “heighten and extend the reader's awareness of the world around him. They should lead him to an appreciation of beauty. The style and content of the illustrations should be ... neither coy nor condescending ... Storytelling qualities should enlarge upon the story elements that were hinted at in the text and should include details that will awaken and strengthen the imagination of the reader and permit him to interpret the works and pictures in a manner unique to him.”
    —Cianciolo, Illustrations in Children's Books (p. 24.25)
the winner(s)' published works cannot exceed three in number.


Winners are announced during the ALA Youth Media Awards Announcement on the Monday morning of the ALA Midwinter Meeting in January.  Winners are contacted that morning.