Coretta Scott King Award

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.   

Year: 2017

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

Author: Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderly and Majory Wentworth

As mentioned in the title of this book, this book is a collection of poems that celebrate poets. There are three parts of this book. The first part is called Got Style. In this section, the poems are written to match the specific style of the poet that is being commemorating. The second part is called In Your Shoes. In this section poems are written to sound like a poem that may have been written by the poet that is being commemorated. The last part is called Thank You. In this section the poems are thanking the poets for their works. The book finishes with an about section. In this final section we learn about the poets and the authors. The images that go along with the poems are done by African American artists.

Year: 2016

Freedom In Congo Square

Author: Carole Boston Weatherford

Set in the early 1800’s, this book progresses through a typical work week for New Orleans slaves. Day after day, there is much work to be done, however, the slaves are always thinking of the number of days until Sunday, which is their only day off as mandated by the laws of the early 1800’s. On Sunday the slaves congregate in Congo Square, where they are free to dress, speak, worship, sing, and dance in their culture as they please.

Year: 2016

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Author: Javaka Steptoe

Jean-Michel Basquiat started life in Brooklyn, New York, and dreamed of being an artist. His mother, Matilde, encouraged him by taking him to the art museums, reading poetry, and taking him to theaters. Jean-Michel also saw art in street games, spoken words, and in city life. Jean-Michel’s home was filled with the smell of cooking, the sound of jazz records being played, and the energy of life that filled his paintings. This story continues through the tragedies and triumphs of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life.

Year: 2015

Trombone Shorty

Author: Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews

A young African American boy growing up in Treme, Louisiana finds a trombone and it changes his whole life.  The boy takes his trombone almost everywhere he goes causing his brother to nickname him Trombone Shorty. One day his mom gets him tickets to a Jazz Festival and he plays his trombone in the crowd.  The performer, Bo Diddley, hears the music and calls Trombone Shorty onto the stage to play with the band! After that experience, Shorty knew that he was ready to have his own band, The 5 o’clock Band, then he later joined his older brother’s band, and now he has his own band called Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.  


Year: 2015


Author: Misty Copeland

Ballerina Misty Copeland takes the hand of a young dancer who believes that the distance between herself and Copeland is too great. Copeland reassures her that she was once at the same place- with dreams of dancing but many hours of practice and performance to come. Copeland’s letter to the reader at the end of the story provides her motivation- to help other African Americans (and, perhaps, all under-represented people) see themselves in places traditionally occupied by the dominant culture.

Year: 2015

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore

Author: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

This book tells the story of a father and his son that spend most of their time at the National Memorial African Bookstore. The father, Lewis Michaux, had a dream of owning a bookstore and worked hard to make it happen. He is now the owner of the National Memorial African Bookstore in which he allows everyone to come in and read. The boy’s father believes that “Knowledge is Power. You need it every hour. Read a book”. Lewis and his son set up a platform outside the story to speak in front of the public about what’s in the news, how to stay knowledgeable and they spread the truth. A family friend sometimes would speak and he was known for speaking nothing, but the truth. This lead to their family friend getting shot and killed because someone did not agree or did not want him to speak anymore. This event shares with the reader what it is like to be segregated and not have the same freedoms. Lewis leaves the reader with this “His words will never leave us”.

Year: 2014

Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me

Author: Daniel Beaty

Knock, Knock refers to the morning routine that an African-American son and his father do every day.  One morning though the father does not come and for consecutive mornings still does not come.  So the boy writes the father a letter about all the things he misses learning from him.  In return, the boy receives a letter from his father encouraging him to be strong and self-reliant.  Beautiful illustrations combining collage and watercolor aid in the telling of this story set in an urban area.  

Year: 2014

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

Author: Laban Carrick Hill

Carrick Hill pays homage to DJ Kool Herc, pioneer of hip hop. Kool Herc’s story starts in Jamaica where he listens to famous DJs and dreams of becoming one. When Kool Herc moves to New York he becomes part of the youth culture that counters gang violence with breakdancing and hip hop.

Year: 2013

I, Too, Am America

Author: Langston Hughes

Collier uses Langston Hughes’ classic poem as the textual tribute to Pullman porters. The illustrations depict the dignity of the porters even while they do manual labor. The story ends with a sense that America can change in regard to racial divisions.


Year: 2012

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

Author: Kadir Nelson

Nelson tells the stories of Africans in America, and African Americans. He portrays both the dark aspects of this history as well as aspects that give hope. Above all, these are stories of courage.