Gene Luen Yang Wins 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature | News Bites

Gene Luen Yang wins the 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature, the Urban Libraries Council has put out a call to action on equitable summer learning, Penguin Random House and We Need Diverse Books announce a new creative writing award for high schoolers, and more in this edition of News Bites.

Gene Luen Yang wins the 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature, the Urban Libraries Council has put out a call to action on equitable summer learning, Penguin Random House and We Need Diverse Books announce a new creative writing award for high schoolers, and more in this edition of News Bites.


Gene Luen Yang wins NSK Prize

Gene Luen Yang is the winner of the 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature, World Literature Today has announced. He is the first graphic novelist to win the prestigious award.

Yang's 2006 release American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the Printz Award.

Trung Le Nguyen, an award-winning comics writer and artist, nominated Yang for the NSK Prize and chose his graphic novel American Born Chinese as the representative text for the jury to read.

"American Born Chinese deftly handles issues of immigration [and] internalized racism as if believing in the capacity for very young readers to synthesize disparate and complicated modes of written communication," Nguyen wrote in his nominating statement.

The NSK Prize was first given in 2003 to Mildred D. Taylor, author of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Additional past winners of the biennial award include: Brian Doyle (2005), Katherine Paterson (2007), Vera B. Williams (2009), Virginia Euwer Wolff (2011), Naomi Shihab Nye (2013), Meshack Asare (2015), Marilyn Nelson (2017), Margarita Engle (2019), and Cynthia Leitich Smith (2021).

A jury selects the finalists and the winner based “solely on literary merit” as well as the importance of the writer's contribution to children's and young adult literature. NSK winners receive $35,000, a silver medallion, and a certificate of recognition.


A call for equity in summer learning

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC), in partnership with the National Summer Learning Association, has put out a Call to Action on Equity in Summer Learning and is asking libraries, partners, and supporters to sign its Statement on Summer Learning.

The statement reads: "As public library leaders, we are resolved to bring about educational and social equity by contributing to a more just structure where all youth can realize their full potential. As an integral part of the educational ecosystem, public libraries’ summer learning programs play a crucial role in equitably reaching all children through intentional, systemic and transformative library-school-community partnerships. The Urban Libraries Council, through the U.S. Department of Education Engage Every Student Initiative and in partnership with the National Summer Learning Association, calls libraries to advance equity through expanded summer learning programs targeted to historically excluded youth.”

ULC invites libraries to commit to engaging every child in high-quality summer learning by:

● Signing ULC’s Statement on Summer Learning

● Identifying youth who have been historically excluded from summer learning because of race, ability, language, access or any other factor.

● Creating a particularized plan for your library and the identified community by using ULC resources and national best practices.

● Providing high-quality summer learning through learning activities tied to STEM and literacy. Libraries are trusted, venerable and enduring institutions, central to their communities and an essential participant in bringing about educational equity.


NEA Big Read grant applications open

Applications are open for grants to support NEA Big Read projects from September 2023 to June 2024. The NEA Big Read supports community reading programs designed around a single NEA Big Read book selection "with the goal of inspiring meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community." Applicants must choose one of 15 selected books. The matching grants range from $5,000 to $20,000.

Eligible applicants include:

  • Arts centers, arts councils, and arts organizations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Libraries and literary centers
  • Community service organizations, environmental organizations, and faith-based organizations
  • Museums and historical societies
  • School districts and local education agencies
  • Tribal governments and non-profits

The deadline for intent to apply is Wednesday, January 18, 2023.


Teaching Guide for The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

The Zinn Education Project has created a Teaching Guide for The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis, adapted for young readers by Theoharis and Brandy Colbert, and the new documentary by the same name.

The book and the film (produced by Soledad O’Brien Productions and directed by Yoruba Richen and Johanna Hamilton) go far beyond that day on the bus. They chronicle Rosa Parks’ childhood, activism before and during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, her work for congressman John Conyers in Detroit, and her involvement in voting rights, anti-apartheid, reparations, fair housing, women’s rights, and the fight against police violence.

Theoharis brought together middle and high school teachers and teacher educators to develop lessons and related teaching ideas. Two of the lessons have been added to the Zinn Education Project collection. Others are being reviewed. The Guide is a work-in-progress.

“Most of the lessons have yet to be field tested,” the Zinn website explains. “Therefore, they are posted as Google docs and will be revised once we hear back from teachers about the implementation.”

The Zinn Education Project is also making copies of the young readers’ book available to teachers and will be hosting educator film screenings from January to March 2023.


PRH announces Michelle Obama Award for Memoir

Penguin Random House and We Need Diverse Books have announced the Michelle Obama Award for Memoir  "in recognition of Michelle Obama’s long-standing commitment to mentorship and education, as well as her inspiring leadership in encouraging young people to discover the power of telling their own stories.”

Public high school seniors are eligible for this new addition to the Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards. The winner will receive a $10,000 college scholarship.

In addition to scholarships given to the Creative Writing Awards winners, Penguin Random House will host a virtual development week over the summer that includes one-on-one meetings with editors, networking workshops, a panel about career opportunities in publishing, and fireside chats with Penguin Random House authors. The week concludes with a virtual awards ceremony.

The deadline for entries is February 1, 2023. Winners will be announced in June 2023.


Celebrity read-aloud for LGBTQ History Month

For October’s LGBTQ History Month, PFLAG National brought together 13 celebrities for a read-aloud of the American Psychological Association's children’s book The Mother of a Movement: Jeanne Manford—Ally, Activist, and Co-Founder of PFLAG by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Sam Kalda.

A video of the reading by celebrities Dan Bucatinsky, Michael D. Cohen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ilana Glazer, Meena Harris, Jessica Hecht, Chef Melissa King, Alec Mapa, Max Mutchnick, Kumail Nanjiani, Avi Roque, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Amy Schneider can be viewed on YouTube.

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