May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award

About the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
The May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lectureship is a unique collaboration between several groups of people—the committee, the chosen Lecturer, the ALSC staff and Board of Directors, and the host site coordinators. The result is an exciting opportunity to celebrate and add to the knowledge and scholarship in the field of children’s literature. Publication in Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children ensures the lecture will be a lasting contribution that is available to a broad audience. 

ALSC established the lecture series in 1969 with sponsorship from Scott, Foresman and Company. The lectureship is now funded by the ALSC May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Endowment, and administered by ALSC.

May Hill Arbuthnot (1884-1969) was born in Mason City, IA, and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1922, receiving her master's degree in 1924 from Columbia University. Along with educator William Scott Gray, she created and wrote the Curriculum Foundation Readers— better known as the "Dick and Jane" series—for children published by Scott, Foresman and Company (now Pearson Scott Foresman).

Her greatest contribution to children's literature, however, was her authorship of Children and Books, the first edition of which was published in 1947. In 1927, she joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University, and there she met and married Charles Arbuthnot, an economics professor. She also served as editor of both Childhood Education and Elementary English. Her other works include The Arbuthnot Anthology of Children's Literature and Children's Books Too Good to Miss.

To link Arbuthnot's name with an oratory award makes perfect sense. When accepting the award in 1969, she recalled "that long stretch of years when I was dashing from one end of the country to the other, bringing children and books together by way of the spoken word." She also affirmed, "I am a strong believer in the efficacy of direct speech.... a forthright vigorous lecture can set fire to a piece of literature that had failed to come to life from the printed page." She was thrilled at the prospect of this award providing a forum for "new voices speaking with new insight and new emphasis in the field of children's lectures." (Quote from The Arbuthnot Lectures, 1970-79, ALA/ALSC, 1980.)

Administered by:

Association for Library Service to Children logo

Award and Frequency

Each year the winning lecturer will receive a $1,000 honorarium.
This award is given out on an annual basis.


  • The lecturer may be an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children's literature, of any country.
  • Those serving on the Arbuthnot Selection Committee may not be themselves selected as either Lecturer or Host during the term of their service on the committee.
  • A library school, department of education in college or university, or a children's library system may be considered as host for the lecture.

Applicant Responsibility

The lecturer shall prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children's literature. This paper is delivered as a lecture each April, and is subsequently published in Children & Libraries, the journal of the Association for Library Service to Children. 

Application Instructions

Suggestions for Lecturers are welcomed from both ALSC members and the ALSC award committee.It is suggested that all formal nominations be submitted via email, fax, and/or U.S. mail.

Suggested Information for a Nomination

  • Name
  • Professional title/occupation
  • Biographical sketch
  • Justification for consideration
  • Major publications
  • Anyone may apply to host the lecture, particularly ALSC member organizations or institutions.

Contact Information

Alena Rivers (Staff Liaison, July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2023) -
Work Phone: 312-280-5866
American Library Association
225 N Michigan Ave Ste 1300
Chicago, IL 60601-7616

Displaying active committee roster as of 09/18/2021. Last retrieved on 09/18/2021. Members can log in to view full contact information for committee members.


The Lecturer is announced at the Youth Media Awards Press Conference at Midwinter Meeting. The host site is announced at the ALSC Membership Meeting in June or July.