More Multiculturalism…

Alright, on to more existing awards. Today’s category is for awards focusing on African-American literature.

First up are the Literary Awards presented by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. As stated on their website, these awards are meant to:

Purpose: To encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and scholarly research including biographical, historical and social history treatments by African Americans.


1. Must portray some aspect of the African American experience past, present or future.

2. Must be written by an African American.

3. Must be published in the United States in the year preceding presentation of the award.

4. Must be an original work. Publishers submit works in the categories of Fiction, Non-Fiction, First Novel, and Poetry.

There is also an award for outstanding contribution to publishing. Entered works are judged by a selection committee of Librarians. Small and large publishers are encouraged to apply, but no self-publishing I don’t think. For a list of winners, click here.  For more info, click here.

Next are the Coretta Scott King awards, also a part of the ALA. These were created with similar goals to honor works for children and young adults. As with the BCALA awards, publishers submit works to the committee. From the website, here are the criteria:

1. Must portray some aspect of the black experience, past, present, or future.

2. Must be written/illustrated by an African American

3. Must be published in the U.S. in the year preceding presentation of the Award.

4. Must be an original work

5. Must meet established standards of quality writing for youth which include:

o Clear plot

o Well drawn characters, which portray growth and development during the course of the story.

o Writing style which is consistent with and suitable to the age intended

o Accuracy

6. Must be written for a youth audience in one of three categories:

 o Preschool-grade 4

o Grades 5-8

o Grades 9-12

7. Particular attention will be paid to titles which 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 identified in the statement below: Illustrations should… “heighten and extend the readers’ awareness of the world around him. They should lead him to an appreciation of beauty. The style and content of the illustrations should be…niether coy nor condescending…Storytelling qualities should enlarge upon the story elements that were hinted in the text and should include details that will awaken and strength the imagination of the reader and permit him to interpret the words and pictures in a manner unique to him” –Cianciolo, Illustrations in Children’s Books (p. 24-25)

 Eligibility and Exclusions

1. Author or illustrator must live in the U.S. or maintain dual residency/citizenship.

 2. Book must be published in the year preceding the year the award is given, evidenced by the copyright date printed in the book.

3. Only finished copies will be accepted. Do not send advance reader copies, galleys, etc.

4. Titles submitted for the Coretta Scott King Book Awards will not be returned. Titles received by the OLOS office are donated as part of The Coretta Scott King Review Books Donation Grant

There is also the John Steptoe New Talent Award which is administered by the same group for authors/illustrators with fewer than 3 published works. Click for winners

  The African-American Literary Awards were created by a PR firm to recognize African American contributions to Literature and Publishing. These awards, with over 30 categories, are seven years old.  I couldn’t find out how to nominate a work, and there was a link to vote on the page. Again, I’m not sure who can vote, whether it’s everyone or members of the organization, or what. There is an advisory board, HERE.

The Before Columbus Foundation sponsors the American Book Awards which I’ve talked about before with the Latino & Indigenous groups. Several of their titles also reach the African-American subject areas. 

And for an excellent round-up of recognized minority awards, click HERE .


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