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Coretta Scott King Award Winning Books

coretta_scott_kingThe Coretta Scott King Awards are presented annually by the American Library Association to honor African-American authors and illustrators who create outstanding books for children and young adults. “… an excellent start on your quest for the best in African-American literature for children.”

csk winner seal
The CSK Book Awards seal and award names are owned by the American Library Association.

The award was established in 1969 to recognize authors. In 1979 it was expanded to include a separate award for illustrators. There are five categories of book awards; Author, Author Honor, Illustrator, Illustrator Honor, and the John Steptoe Award for New Talent.

These awards are given to commemorate the life and work of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her continuing efforts in working for peace and civil rights issues. In 2015 The Coretta Scott King Awards became part of the Youth Media Awards. Here is a printable list of all the award winning books.

You may learn more, about this award, at the American Library Association’s website. Also check out our list of Top 100+ Recommended African-American Children’s Books, some are also CSK Award winning titles.

8 Coretta Scott King Award Winning and Honored Books for 2015

Author Award

Click for a larger image of Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

Age Range: Age Range: 10 and up
Publication Date: Aug 28, 2014
List Price: $0.00
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 336
Imprint: Nancy Paulsen Books

Woodson’s brown girl dreaming  wins 2014 National Book Award

“Ms. Woodson writes with a sure understanding of the thoughts of young people, offering a poetic, eloquent narrative that is not simply a story… but a mature exploration of grown-up issues and self-discovery.”—The New York Times Book Review

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Author Honor

Click for a larger image of How I Discovered Poetry

How I Discovered Poetry
by Marilyn Nelson

Age Range: 12 and up
Publication Date: Jan 14, 2014
List Price: $0.00
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Poetry
Page Count: 112
Imprint: Dial Books for Young Readers


A powerful and thought-provoking Civil Rights era memoir from one of America’s most celebrated poets.

Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. Readers are given an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her: racial tensions, the Cold War era, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement.

A first-person account of African-American history, this is a book to study, discuss, and treasure.

Author Honor

Click for a larger image of How It Went Down

How It Went Down
by Kekla Magoon

Age Range: 14 - 17
Publication Date: Oct 14, 2014
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 336
Imprint: Henry Holt & Company


When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth. Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.

Author Honor

Click for a larger image of The Crossover

The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander

Age Range: 9 - 12 years
Publication Date: Mar 18, 2014
List Price: $16.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 240
Imprint: HMH Books for Young Readers


“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks…The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander (He Said, She Said 2013).

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

Illustrator Award

Click for a larger image of Firebird

by Misty Copeland, Illustrated by Christopher Myers

Age Range: 5 - 8 years
Publication Date: Sep 04, 2014
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 40
Imprint: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Winner of the 2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award
In her debut picture book, Misty Copeland tells the story of a young girl--an every girl--whose confidence is fragile and who is questioning her own ability to reach the heights that Misty has reached. Misty encourages this young girl's faith in herself and shows her exactly how, through hard work and dedication, she too can become Firebird.

Lyrical and affecting text paired with bold, striking illustrations that are some of Caldecott Honoree Christopher Myers's best work, makes Firebird perfect for aspiring ballerinas everywhere.

Illustrator Honor

Click for a larger image of Josephine: The Dazzling Life Of Josephine Baker

Josephine: The Dazzling Life Of Josephine Baker
by Patricia Hruby Powell, Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Publication Date: Jan 14, 2014
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 104
Imprint: Chronicle Books

Coretta Scott King Book Award, Illustrator, Honor

In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait for young people of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine's powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

Illustrator Honor

Click for a larger image of Little Melba And Her Big Trombone

Little Melba And Her Big Trombone
by Katheryn Russell-Brown, Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Age Range: 6 - 10
Publication Date: Aug 20, 2014
List Price: $18.95
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 40
Imprint: Lee & Low Books


A biography of African American jazz virtuoso Melba Doretta Liston, a pioneering twentieth-century trombone player, composer, and music arranger at a time when few women, of any race, played brass instruments and were part of the jazz scene.

John Steptoe Award for New Talent

Click for a larger image of When I Was the Greatest

When I Was the Greatest
by Jason Reynolds

Age Range: 12
Publication Date: Aug 18, 2015
List Price: $9.99
Format: Paperback
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: 256
Imprint: Atheneum Books for Young Readers


In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut that Publishers Weekly calls “a funny and rewarding read” captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.

A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.

Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.

And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.

Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should’ve been—where the people aren’t so friendly, and even less forgiving.

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