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An award for the world of children's books

Three of my very favorite illustrators have been nominated for a very prestigious award, the Hans Christian Andersen.

Every other year, the names of an author and an illustrator are put forward for consideration for this international honor, selected by the National Sections of the International Board on Books for Young People (better known as IBBY). The award is given for their lasting contribution to the field of children's literature.

Books for peace?

Over 50 years ago, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) was established by Jella Lepman. Her vision for the organization was to "to promote international understanding through children's books." There are now over 70 chapters of IBBY throughout the world, including the US chapter, known as USBBY.

The "other" in books for children

We've come a long way but there's still more to do to change attitudes about books for children — especially books by or about those with other than European heritages.

Disturbing images - can we protect our children?

Should children be subjected to the horrendous images that surround us in newspapers, on television, on the Internet? How can we avoid having them see pictures of the death, devastation, and other horrors?

Book awards make good news

I'm writing this from Boston where I attended the American Library Association midwinter meeting and where the Youth Awards were announced. Actually, I was part of the process.

Native American Heritage and a dearth of children's books

This morning my son was asking me about a movie he saw ages ago called "Hook" (Sony, 1990). It's a Robin Williams film that involves an adult Peter Pan and Captain Hook.

As I was re-examining books on my shelf, I came across a stunning book with the same title but an all together different subject. Hook by Ed Young (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook) is about an abandoned egg that hatches into an eagle.

Forty years strong

Are awards for children's books useful? What can they do in a real sense?

Children's publishing is a crowded field and for many, awards can help identify not only critically valuable books but help identify new and interesting work.

When it first started some 40 years ago, the Coretta Scott King was intended to recognize the work of African American authors and illustrators. It continues to do so and since 1995, the John Steptoe New Talent Award encourages and recognizes new authors and illustrators.

Fabulous February

February is a marvelous month. It's chockfull of all kinds of celebrations and holidays. And happily, there are lots of books for young readers to enhance and extend them.

There's African American History Month which can be celebrated by reading about distinguished leaders like Coretta Scott King. Stunning illustrations by award-winning Kadir Nelson add even more drama to the poetry of Ntozake Shange in Coretta Scott (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins).

Change is in the air

Change is in the air. It was almost palpable yesterday as throngs of people — including lots of young children — witnessed the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Hope and change have become buzzwords, but you can almost feel both. They're certainly apparent in recent books for children (though not for children only), both inspired by the words of Barack Obama.

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio