The Ezra Jack Keats Award: 35 Years of Making a Difference in Diverse Picture Books

Click to view an auto-captioned version of this recording in Zoom.

Best known for his groundbreaking picture book, The Snowy Day (1962), Ezra Jack Keats created an imaginative, encouraging, and multi-ethnic community within his books. Drawing from Ezra’s legacy, the Ezra Jack Keats (EJK) Award, first awarded in 1986, nurtures and honors our country’s multicultural population, boosting the careers of authors and illustrators whose outstanding books reflect our diverse population and in turn the lives of countless children and families. The award celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2021, and the EJK Foundation and the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi, which co-administers the award, are launching a yearlong public awareness campaign to honor the award and its recipients. One of the most important aspects of the campaign is providing critical resources to librarians and educators for youth programming promoting diverse picture books for all young readers. 

This on-demand webinar features a discussion of outstanding EJK Award winning picture books that represent characteristics of exemplary picture books in both text and illustrations. The panelists—an EJK Award selection committee member, an EJK Award recipient who has served on the selection committee, and a public library youth services coordinator—share perspectives on how public librarians can select excellent and diverse picture books for their collections and programming. 

Other campaign resources introduced include virtual and in-person guidelines for a mock EJK Award, themed book lists, discussion questions, read aloud resources, and art and writing activities found on the EJK Foundation website.

Originally presented February 10, 2021.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Identify characteristics of outstanding picture books to enhance their collection development;
  • Create youth programming related to the EJK Award winning books that will exemplify their library’s commitments to diversity; and
  • Utilize the resources on the EJK Award 35th Anniversary website to enhance youth programming and community engagement.

Additional Resources

Who Should Attend

This on-demand webinar is relevant for library staff who work with youth services and children’s collection development. No previous knowledge of the topic is required.


Ramona CaponegroRamona Caponegro is an associate professor of children’s literature at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, MI), where she teaches classes in multicultural and global children’s literature and illustrated texts. She has published essays about the Ezra Jack Keats Award, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and early readers, and has forthcoming chapters about the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection and the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature. Ramona is also editing a special issue of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly about representations of criminal justice systems for young people. She is a member of the Ezra Jack Keats Award 35th Anniversary leadership team, and she is the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) chair of the Pura Belpré Award 25th Anniversary Task Force. She serves as the chair of the Children’s Literature Association’s Phoenix Picture Book Award Committee, and was the 2019 chair of the Pura Belpré Award Selection Committee.

Claudette McLinnClaudette McLinn is the executive director of the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature in Inglewood, CA. She retired as the district supervising librarian in Library Services for the Los Angeles Unified School District with over 34 years of experience as a teacher, librarian, and administrator in elementary and secondary education. She has been active in ALA, serving on the Newbery, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré, and Caldecott Award Committees; and is currently serving as immediate past executive chair of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee, past chair of the Coretta Scott King 50th Anniversary Planning Committee, and Board of Directors, USBBY. Claudette has received numerous awards, including the 2020 ALSC Distinguished Service Award and the 2014 Dorothy C. McKenzie Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Field of Children's Literature presented by the Children's Literature Council of Southern California.

Don TateDon Tate is an award-winning author and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children. He received the Ezra Jack Keats Writer Award for Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree) and an EJK Writer Honor for It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started To Draw (Lee & Low Books). Some of his other books include Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (Charlesbridge); The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans); The Cart That Carried Martin (Charlesbridge); Hope’s Gift (Penguin), and many others. Don is a founding host of The Brown Bookshelf, a blog dedicated to books for African American young readers, and a one-time member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature.

Kimberly GradKimberly Grad is the coordinator of school age services at New York City’s Brooklyn Public Library where she manages system-wide programming for children ages 6–12, including the annual Summer Reading campaign, the “Team Up To Read” literacy program, and the STEM enrichment program “Library Lab." She also serves as the chair of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition Jury. Kimberly conducts training sessions for children’s librarians on virtual programming, children’s literature, and child development. Through her work at ALSC, she served on the following committees: Notable Children’s Books, 2016 and 2017; Quicklists Consulting Committees, 2018 and 2019 as co-chair; School Age Programs and Services Committee as chair in 2019–2020; and as a member of the Newbery 100th Anniversary Celebration Task Force in 2020.



This on-demand webinar is free and available 24/7 for your viewing convenience.

How to Register

No registration is required.

Tech Requirements

To playback this archived webinar you should have either the latest version of Flash running on your computer, or use a browser with native HTML5 support. Please use the most up-to-date version available of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer. A fast Internet connection and computer is recommended.

Credits or CEUs

PLA does not award credit hours, CEUs, or certificates of attendance/completion/participation for its on-demand webinars and cannot verify participation.


If you have questions or problems accessing a recording, send a message to or call 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752).