ALA source for Black History Month book recommendations

Contact: Macey Morales

Media Relations Manager

ALA Public Information Office

(312) 280-4393


For Immediate Release,

February 2, 2010

Children’s books pave way for the exploration of African American culture

CHICAGO – During Black History Month in February, teachers, librarians and parents are looking to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Coretta Scott King Book Awards as a guide to quality children’s literature that explores the African American experience.

For more than 40 years, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards have encouraged the artistic expression of the African American experience through literature and graphic arts. The awards honor the late Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for her commitment to continue her husband’s work to foster peace and brotherhood among all races.

“Just as Dr. King’s message spoke to all races and religions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award titles provide well-written, exquisitely illustrated books that reflect universally accepted human values,” said ALA President Camila Alire. “The library community is indebted to the awards for encouraging literature about African American history and culture, and making that history come alive for today’s generation of young readers.”

Hundreds of libraries will showcase this year’s award selections, including:

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Author winner “Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal,” written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. The book is a biography of a legendary peace officer. Born into slavery in 1838, Bass had a hard life and a strong sense of right and wrong. Bass was one of the most feared and respected lawman in Indian Territory.

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Illustrator winner “My People,” illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr., written by Langston Hughes and published by ginee seo books, Atheneum Books for Young Readers. In “My People” written by Langston Hughes and published by ginee seo books, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Smith’s vibrant sepia photographs celebrate the beauty and diversity of African Americans. The close-ups of illuminated faces filled with jubilant, loving expressions emerge from black backgrounds and capture the spirit of Langston Hughes’ eloquent poem.

  • C
    oretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award winner “The Rock and the River,” written by kekla magoon, published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. In 1968 Chicago, Sam Childs is living in the shadows of two important people – his father, a civil rights activist working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his older brother “Stick” who has joined the Black Panther Party. These different approaches to achieving racial equality place Sam between the rock and the river.

Black History Month will also provide an opportunity for libraries to showcase past Coretta Scott King Book Award winners. For example, teen librarians at the Rust Library, a branch of the Loudoun County (VA) Public Library System, will present a series of programs including a group discussion of the 2003 Author Award book, “The Bronx Masquerade,” by Nikki Grimes. Teens will perform or exhibit their work in an open-mic/gallery night, similar to the event held in the book.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) and honors African American authors and illustrators.

For a complete list of current and past Coretta Scott King Book award winners, please visit

Members of the 2010 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury are: Carole McCollough, Retired faculty, WSU/LIS; Eunice Anderson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore; Alan R. Bailey, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.; Brenda Hunter, Atlanta Fulton Public Library, Retired; Jonda C. McNair, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.; Martha Ruff, Prince George’s County Public Library, Oxon Hill, Md.; and Robin Smith, Ensworth School, Nashville, Tenn.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world with approximately 63,000. Its mission is to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.