Coretta Scott King Award Honors

View all American Children's Awards book lists; This list was last updated on 2/23/2021
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The Coretta Scott King Award is an annual award presented by the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table, part of the American Library Association (ALA). Named for Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., this award recognizes outstanding African American authors and illustrators, and is awarded for books about the African-American experience that are written for a youth audience (high school or below). 

For more book recommendations, please check out New York Times® Best Sellers, Children's Book Recommendations or the complete list of Featured Book Lists and Award Winners

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The Hunterman and the Crocodile: A West African Folktale

release date: Jan 01, 1997
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The Hunterman and the Crocodile: A West African Folktale
A hunterman and a crocodile take turns being captive and captor in a humorous folktale that teaches the importance of living in harmony with nature and is illustrated with ceramic-tile paintings.

Harlem

release date: Mar 01, 1997
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Harlem
A poem celebrating the people, sights, and sounds of Harlem.

Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry

release date: Jan 01, 2001
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Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry
"And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I'm lonely -- I'll make me a world."

-- James Weldon Johnson
Thus begins Coretta Scott King Award-winner Ashley Bryan's collection of inspiring excerpts of poems by celebrated African American poets. Beautifully illustrated with his own tempera and gouache paintings, Ashley Bryan's unique alphabet book will delight readers of any age.

Lost Prophet

release date: Jan 01, 2007
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Lost Prophet
One of the most important figures of the American civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin taught Martin Luther King Jr. the methods of Gandhi, spearheaded the 1963 March on Washington, and helped bring the struggle of African Americans to the forefront of a nation's consciousness. But despite his incontrovertibly integral role in the movement, the openly gay Rustin is not the household name that many of his activist contemporaries are. In exploring history's Lost Prophet, acclaimed historian John D'Emilio explains why Rustin's influence was minimized by his peers and why his brilliant strategies were not followed, or were followed by those he never meant to help.

Duke Ellington

release date: Dec 12, 2006
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Duke Ellington
Another stunning picture book biography of a prominent twentieth-century African-American in the arts, from the creative team behind Alvin Ailey.

Bat Boy and His Violin

release date: Jan 01, 2001
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Bat Boy and His Violin
Reginald loves to create beautiful music on his violin. But Papa, manager of the Dukes, the worst team in the Negro National League, needs a bat boy, not a "fiddler," and traveling with the Dukes doesn't leave Reginald much time for practicing.
Soon the Dukes' dugout is filled with Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach -- and the bleachers are filled with the sound of the Dukes' bats. Has Reginald's violin changed the Dukes' luck -- and can his music pull off a miracle victory against the powerful Monarchs?
Gavin Curtis's beautifully told story of family ties and team spirit and E. B. Lewis's lush watercolor paintings capture a very special period in history.

My Rows and Piles of Coins

release date: Aug 23, 1999
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My Rows and Piles of Coins
"I emptied my secret money box, arranged the coins in piles and the piles in rows . . ." The market is full of wonderful things, but Saruni is saving his precious coins for a red and blue bicycle. How happy he will be when he can help his mother carry heavy loads to market on his very own bicycle--and how disappointed he is to discover that he hasn't saved nearly enough! Determination and generosity are at the heart of this satisfying tale, set in Tanzania and illustrated with glowing watercolors that capture the warmth of Saruni's family and the excitement of market day.

Monster

release date: Jun 01, 2006
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Monster

Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady who is the prosecutor called me. MONSTER.

FADE IN: INTERIOR COURT. A guard sits at a desk behind Steve. Kathy O'Brien, Steve's lawyer, is all business as she talks to Steve.

O'BRIEN
Let me make sure you understand what's going on. Both you and this king character are on trial for felony murder. Felony Murder is as serious as it gets. . . . When you're in court, you sit there and pay attetion. You let the jury know that you think the case is a serious as they do. . . .

STEVE
You think we're going to win ?

O'BRIEN (seriously)
It probably depends on what you mean by "win."

Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial for murder. A Harlem drugstore owner was shot and killed in his store, and the word is that Steve served as the lookout.

Guilty or innocent, Steve becomes a pawn in the hands of "the system," cluttered with cynical authority figures and unscrupulous inmates, who will turn in anyone to shorten their own sentences. For the first time, Steve is forced to think about who he is as he faces prison, where he may spend all the tomorrows of his life.

As a way of coping with the horrific events that entangle him, Steve, an amateur filmmaker, decides to transcribe his trial into a script, just like in the movies. He writes it all down, scene by scene, the story of how his whole life was turned around in an instant. But despite his efforts, reality is blurred and his vision obscured until he can no longer tell who he is or what is the truth. This compelling novel is Walter Dean Myers's writing at its best.

2000 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, 2000 Michael L. Printz Award, 1999 National Book Award Finalist, 01 Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Lit Finalist, 00-01 Tayshas High School Reading List, and 00-01 Black-Eyed Susan Award Masterlist

2000 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA), Hornbook Fanfare 2000, Michael L. Printz Award 2000, 2000 Coretta Scott King Award Author Honor Book, 2000 Quick Picks for Young Adults (Recomm. Books for Reluctant Young Readers), and 2000 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)

Freedom river

release date: Jan 01, 2007
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Freedom river
Describes an incident in the life of John Parker, an ex-slave who became a successful businessman in Ripley, Ohio, and who repeatedly risked his life to help other slaves escape to freedom.

Let it Shine

release date: Sep 01, 2000
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Let it Shine

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked a boycott that changed America. Harriet Tubman helped more than three hundred slaves escape the South on the Underground Railroad. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
The lives these women led are part of an incredible story about courage in the face of oppression; about the challenges and triumphs of the battle for civil rights; and about speaking out for what you believe in--even when it feels like no one is listening. Andrea Davis Pinkney's moving text and Stephen Alcorn's glorious portraits celebrate the lives of ten bold women who lit the path to freedom for generations. Includes biographies of Sojournor Truth, Biddy Mason, Harriet Tubman, Ida B.Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Shirley Chisholm.

Martin's Big Words

release date: Jan 01, 2010
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Martin's Big Words
This picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier's stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor paintings with vibrant patterns and textures. A timeline and a lsit of additional books and web sites help make this a standout biography of Dr. King.

Money Hungry

release date: Aug 01, 2007
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Money Hungry
Thirteen-year-old Raspberry Hill is always scheming about ways to make money. She's starved for the green stuff, and will do just about anything legal to get it-wash cars, sell rotten candy, skip lunch, and clean houses. She is obsessed with making money, having money, smelling money, and touching money. Raspberry is determined that she and her momma will never be homeless again. When they are approved for a Section 8 move to a nice house in Pecan Landings, Raspberry thinks things are looking up. But after their apartment in the projects is robbed, and protest by the rich folks in Pecan Landings force them out of their new house, Raspberry must do everything in her power to keep her world from crumbling.

Rap a Tap Tap

release date: Sep 01, 2002
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Rap a Tap Tap
With bold paintings and a simple, rhyming text, Caldecott Medalists Leo & Diane Dillon bring young readers a rap a tap tap celebration of dance that will have readers clapping and tapping along.

"There once was a man who danced in the street / He brought pleasure and joy to the people he'd greet / He didn't just dance, he made art with his feet / Rap a tap tap--think of that!"
This simple book for young children has the added bonus of describing the life of a ground-breaking African-American tap dancer. Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was one of the most popular entertainers of the 1920s-30s. People said he "talked with his feet," and in the Dillons' graceful paintings of old New York, he dances from page to page to the tune of a toe-tapping rhyme. Rap a tap tap--think of that!

Thunder Rose

release date: Jan 01, 2003
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Thunder Rose
On a dark night of howling rain and booming thunder, Jackson and Millicent MacGruder welcome a new baby girl into their lives. Imagine their surprise when she sits up, thanks them for bringing her into the world, and informs them that she's quite partial to the name Rose.
So begins the story of Thunder Rose, who drinks her milk straight from the cow and prefers the company of her bull, Tater, to any kitten or puppy. Rose is capturing outlaws by the time she's a teenager, but she always has time to find joy in a song. Jerdine Nolen and Kadir Nelson have created a tall tale--and a powerful new African American heroine--to delight readers of all ages.

Almost to Freedom

release date: Jan 01, 2003
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Days Of Jubilee

release date: Feb 01, 2003
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Days Of Jubilee
The McKissacks introduce young readers to the pivotal events leading up to and including the long awaited and glorious Days of Jubilee.

For two and a half centuries African-American slaves sang about, prayed for, and waited on their long anticipated freedom -- a day of Jubilee. But freedom didn't come for slaves at the same time. DAYS OF JUBILEE chronicles the various stages of U.S. emancipation beginning with those slaves who were freed for their service during the Revolutionary War, to those who were freed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Using slave narratives, letters, diaries, military orders, and other documents, the McKissacks invite young readers to celebrate coming freedom and the Days of Jubilee.

God Bless the Child

release date: Dec 26, 2007
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God Bless the Child

The song "God Bless the Child" was first performed by legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday in 1939 and remains one of her enduring masterpieces. In this picture book interpretation, renowned illustrator Jerry Pinkney has created images of a family moving from the rural South to the urban North during the Great Migration. This extraordinary book stands as a tribute to all those men and women who dared so much to get their own.

Brothers in Hope

release date: May 30, 2005
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Brothers in Hope
Eight-year-old Garang is tending cattle far from his family's home in southern Sudan when war comes to his village. Frightened but unharmed, he returns to find everything has been destroyed.Soon Garang meets other boys whose villages have been attacked. Before long they become a moving band of thousands, walking hundreds of miles seeking safety ― first in Ethiopia and then in Kenya. The boys face numerous hardships and dangers along the way, but their faith and mutual support help keep the hope of finding a new home alive in their hearts.Based on heartbreaking yet inspirational true events in the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Brothers in Hope is a story of remarkable and enduring courage, and an amazing testament to the unyielding power of the human spirit.

A Wreath for Emmett Till

release date: Jan 01, 2009
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A Wreath for Emmett Till
In 1955, people all over the United States knew that Emmett Louis Till was a fourteen-year-old African American boy lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, the open-casket funeral, and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew wide media attention.

Award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson reminds us of the boy whose fate helped spark the civil rights movement. This martyr's wreath, woven from a little-known but sophisticated form of poetry, challenges us to speak out against modern-day injustices, to “speak what we see.”

Moses

release date: Aug 08, 2006
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Moses
This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman's strength, humility, and devotion. With proper reverence, Weatherford and Nelson do justice to the woman who, long ago, earned over and over the name Moses.

Jazz On A Saturday Night (Coretta Scott King Honor Book)

release date: Sep 01, 2007
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Jazz On A Saturday Night (Coretta Scott King Honor Book)
Celebrated illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon have won the Caldecott Medal twice, and now they present stunning illustrations of an evening of jazz music, complete with a special CD.

If you have ever been lucky enough to hear great jazz, then you will understand the pure magic of this book. Leo and Diane Dillon use bright colors and musical patterns that make music skip off the page in this toe-tapping homage to many jazz greats. From Miles Davis and Charlie Parker to Ella Fitzgerald, here is a dream team sure to knock your socks off. Learn about this popular music form and read a biography of each player pictured-and then hear each instrument play on a specially produced CD. What's the featured song? "Jazz on a Saturday Night," written and recorded to accompany this book.

Twelve Rounds to Glory

release date: Aug 24, 2010
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Twelve Rounds to Glory
"An in-depth look at Ali's life through twelve rhyming poems. . . . Collier's bold pictures are among the best of his illustrious career."—BOOKLIST (starred review)

A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
A National Council for the Social Studies Notable Trade Book for Young People

From the moment a fired-up teenager won 1960 Olympic gold to the day when a retired legend, hands shaking from Parkinson's, returned to raise the Olympic torch, the boxer known as "The Greatest" waged many a fight. Some were in the ring, against opponents like Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier; others were against societal prejudice and a war he refused to support because of his Islamic faith. The rap-inspired verse weaves and bobs and jabs, while bold collage artwork matches every move—capturing the "Louisville loudmouth with the great gift of rhyme" who shed the name Cassius Clay to take on the world as Muhammad Ali.

November Blues

release date: May 19, 2009
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November Blues
Two months after her boyfriend, Josh, dies in a hazing accident, high school senior November discovers she's pregnant. Having to tell her mother is hard enough, but Josh's parents' reaction is even more devastating: they hire a lawyer to try to take her baby away from her. Josh's cousin, Jericho, wants to help November however he can, but he's still dealing with his own sense of responsibility for Josh's death. The sequel to the Coretta Scott King Honor Book The Battle of Jericho pulls no punches as it explores—with Sharon M. Draper's trademark keen insight into how teenagers think, feel, and speak—the difficult decisions and harsh realities of teen pregnancy.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant

release date: Apr 01, 2008
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Before John Was a Jazz Giant

Young John Coltrane was all ears. And there was a lot to hear growing up in the South in the 1930s: preachers praying, music on the radio, the bustling of the household. These vivid noises shaped John's own sound as a musician. Carole Boston Weatherford and Sean Qualls have composed an amazingly rich hymn to the childhood of jazz legend John Coltrane.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant is a 2009 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book and a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

We Are the Ship

release date: Feb 01, 2009
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We Are the Ship

"We are the ship; all else the sea."-Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League

The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball.

Using an "Everyman" player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the memories of a man who has known the great ballplayers of that time and shared their experiences. But what makes this book so outstanding are the dozens of full-page and double-page oil paintings-breathtaking in their perspectives, rich in emotion, and created with understanding and affection for these lost heroes of our national game.

We Are the Ship is a tour de force for baseball lovers of all ages.

Becoming Billie Holiday

release date: Oct 01, 2008
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Becoming Billie Holiday
Before the legend of Billie Holiday, there was a girl named Eleanora. In 1915, Sadie Fagan gave birth to a daughter she named Eleanora. The world, however, would know her as Billie Holiday, possibly the greatest jazz singer of all time. Eleanora's journey into legend took her through pain, poverty, and run-ins with the law. By the time she was fifteen, she knew she possessed something that could possibly change her life—a voice. Eleanora could sing. Her remarkable voice led her to a place in the spotlight with some of the era's hottest big bands. Billie Holiday sang as if she had lived each lyric, and in many ways she had. Through a sequence of raw and poignant poems, award-winning poet Carole Boston Weatherford chronicles Eleanora Fagan's metamorphosis into Billie Holiday. The author examines the singer's young life, her fight for survival, and the dream she pursued with passion in this Coretta Scott King Author Honor winner. With stunning art by Floyd Cooper, this book provides a revealing look at a cultural icon.

Jimi

release date: Oct 04, 2010
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Jimi

Jimi Hendrix was many things: a superstar, a rebel, a hero, an innovator. But first, he was a boy named Jimmy who loved to draw and paint and listen to records. A boy who played air guitar with a broomstick and longed for a real guitar of his own. A boy who asked himself a question: Could someone paint pictures with sound?
     This a story of a talented child who learns to see, hear, and interpret the world around him in his own unique way. It is also a story of a determined kid with a vision, who worked hard to become a devoted and masterful artist. Jimi Hendrix--a groundbreaking performer whose music shook the very foundations of rock 'n' roll.

Yummy

by: G. Neri
release date: Jan 01, 2011
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Yummy

Eleven-year-old Roger is trying to make sense of his classmate Robert "Yummy" Sandifer's death, but first he has to make sense of Yummy's life. Yummy could be as tough as a pit bull sometimes. Other times he was as sweet as the sugary treats he loved to eat. Was Yummy some sort of monster, or just another kid?

As Roger searches for the truth, he finds more and more questions. How did Yummy end up in so much trouble? Did he really kill someone? And why do all the answers seem to lead back to a gang―the same gang Roger's older brother belongs to?

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty is a compelling dramatization based on events that occurred in Chicago in 1994. This gritty exploration of youth gang life will force readers to question their own understandings of good and bad, right and wrong.

Lockdown

release date: Dec 27, 2011
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Lockdown

Walter Dean Myers enjoys speaking with kids in schools and juvenile detention facilities about writing and making positive decisions. He says, "I have enormous faith in young people."

What's it like in juvie jail? Enter the world of fourteen-year-old Reese, who's locked up at Progress juvenile detention facility. Can he get a second chance?

Never Forgotten

release date: Jan 01, 2011
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Never Forgotten
A 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

This gorgeous picture book by Newbery Honor winner Patricia C. McKissack and two-time Caldecott Medal-winning husband-and-wife team Leo and Diane Dillon is sure to become a treasured keepsake for African American families. Set in West Africa, this a lyrical story-in-verse is about a young black boy who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, and his father who is left behind to mourn the loss of his son. Here's a beautiful, powerful, truly unforgettable story about family, memory, and freedom.

"Forceful and iconic," raves Publishers Weekly in a starred review.
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