For immediate release | April 26, 2021

“Empowering A Diverse Community of Learners Through Biographies” receives AASL Roald Dahl's Miss Honey Social Justice Award

CHICAGO – The “Empowering A Diverse Community of Learners Through Biographies” project from Gwin Elementary School in Hoover, Alabama, is the recipient of the 2021 American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Roald Dahl's Miss Honey Social Justice Award. Sponsored by Penguin Random House, the Roald Dahl Award recognizes collaboration between school librarians and teachers in the instruction of social justice using school library resources.

“Empowering A Diverse Community of Learners Through Biographies” is a collaborative cross-curricular biography project engaging students in researching Black Americans. The educators involved in the project included Jennifer Northrup, library media specialist, Hali House, elementary educator, Kelley Feagin, STEAM teacher, and Katie Jane Morris, outreach public librarian. The goal of the project was to bridge ideas on social justice and Black Americans using biographies as a tool to expand students’ ideas and connection with real-world struggles.

Designed for third grade students, the educators were inspired by the rich diversity in their school community and their hope for a future society that embraces equality for all people. The project taught reading, writing, information literacy, and digital literacy skills, however, the project team feels the social-emotional skills that students developed had the most critical impact on student awareness and learning. By exploring identity and empathy, students connected to the influential Black American they chose to research.

The school librarian and classroom teacher worked collaboratively to develop a means for learners to listen to book talks and research. The public librarian created a list of newer biographies and gave book talks, while the STEAM teacher provided a way for students to present their final projects using robotics.

“We are thrilled that our project was chosen for this award,” said Northrup. “Through our collaborative work, our students gained a better understanding of Black Americans, their influence, struggles, and contributions to our world. They are empowered and inspired to change their communities. We look forward to sharing our work with other teachers and librarians to encourage collaboration on social justice units.”

“The project was concise and detailed with meaningful tasks for the students to complete while learning about social justice,” added committee chair Karen Egger.

The AASL award winners will be recognized during the 2021 AASL National Conference taking place October 21-23 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.


Jennifer Habley

Manager, Web Communications

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)