Carter G. Woodson Award Winning Books


As of 2001 awards and honors are given in the following categories, Elementary (K-6), Middle (5-8), and Secondary (7-12) grade level books.

Carter Woodson Award Seal Carter G. Woodson Seal

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) established the Carter G. Woodson Book Awards for the most distinguished books appropriate for young readers that depict ethnicity in the United States. First presented in 1974, this award is intended to “encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social studies books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and race relations sensitively and accurately.” Books relating to ethnic minorities and the authors of such books rarely receive the recognition they merit from professional organizations. By sponsoring the Carter G. Woodson Awards, NCSS gives wide recognition to and encourages these authors and publishers. Here is a printable list of all the award winning books. Learn more at NCSS’s website.

Also check out our list of Top 100+ Recommended African-American Children’s Books, some are also CSK Award winning titles.


5 Award Winning and Honored Books for 2021


Secondary Level Winner

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box
by Evette Dionne

Publication Date: Apr 21, 2020
List Price: $19.99
Format: Hardcover, 176 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9780451481542
Imprint: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box


Book Description: 
For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only one battle.

An eye-opening book that tells the important, overlooked story of black women as a force in the suffrage movement—when fellow suffragists did not accept them as equal partners in the struggle.

Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Alice Paul. The Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls. The 1913 Women’s March in D.C. When the epic story of the suffrage movement in the United States is told, the most familiar leaders, speakers at meetings, and participants in marches written about or pictured are generally white.

That’s not the real story.

Women of color, especially African American women, were fighting for their right to vote and to be treated as full, equal citizens of the United States. Their battlefront wasn’t just about gender. African American women had to deal with white abolitionist-suffragists who drew the line at sharing power with their black sisters. They had to overcome deep, exclusionary racial prejudices that were rife in the American suffrage movement. And they had to maintain their dignity—and safety—in a society that tried to keep them in its bottom ranks.

Lifting as We Climb is the empowering story of African American women who refused to accept all this. Women in black church groups, black female sororities, black women’s improvement societies and social clubs. Women who formed their own black suffrage associations when white-dominated national suffrage groups rejected them. Women like Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women and of the NAACP; or educator-activist Anna Julia Cooper who championed women getting the vote and a college education; or the crusading journalist Ida B. Wells, a leader in both the suffrage and anti-lynching movements.

Author Evette Dionne, a feminist culture writer and the editor-in-chief of Bitch Media, has uncovered an extraordinary and underrepresented history of black women. In her powerful book, she draws an important historical line from abolition to suffrage to civil rights to contemporary young activists—filling in the blanks of the American suffrage story.

★"Dionne provides a detailed and comprehensive look at the overlooked roles African American women played in the efforts to end slavery and then to secure the right to vote for women." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Middle Level Winner

Black Heroes of the Wild West
by James Otis Smith

    Publication Date: Sep 15, 2020
    List Price: $16.95
    Format: Hardcover, 60 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    Target Age Group: Middle Grade
    ISBN13: 9781943145515
    Imprint: Toon Graphics
    Publisher: TOON Books
    Parent Company: TOON Books

    Read a Description of Black Heroes of the Wild West


    Book Description: 

    This is Smith’s first book as both author and illustrator.

    NYPL’S TOP 10 BOOKS FOR KIDSExploring American history and finding diversity at its roots This graphic novel by JAMES OTIS SMITH celebrates the extraordinary true tales of three black heroes who took control of their destinies and stood up for their communities in the Old West. Born into slavery in Tennessee, Mary Fields became famous as "Stagecoach Mary," a cigar-chomping, card playing coach driver who never missed a delivery. Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi, was one of the wiliest lawmen in the territories, bringing thousands of outlaws to justice with his smarts. Bob Lemmons lived to be 99 years old and was so good with horses that the wild mustangs on the plains of Texas took him for one of their own. A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection From the introduction by KADIR NELSON, winner of the 2020 Caldecott Award: "Black Heroes of the Wild West is a brilliant and entertaining offering. Through sharp and evocative storytelling in the exciting medium of comics, lesser-known African American historical figures will be introduced to new generations of readers."



    Middle Level Honor

    Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon
    by Kelly Starling Lyons, Illustrated by Laura Freeman

    Publication Date: Jan 14, 2020
    List Price: $19.95
    Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    Target Age Group: Picture Book
    ISBN13: 9781620149553
    Imprint: Lee & Low Books
    Publisher: Lee & Low Books
    Parent Company: Lee & Low Books

    Read a Description of Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon


    Book Description: 
    Philip Freelon’s grandfather was an acclaimed painter of the Harlem Renaissance. His father was a successful businessman who attended the 1963 March on Washington. When Phil decided to attend architecture school, he created his own focus on African American and Islamic designers. He later chose not to build casinos or prisons, instead concentrating on schools, libraries, and museums—buildings that connect people with heritage and fill hearts with joy. And in 2009, Phil’s team won a commission that let him use his personal history in service to the country’s: the extraordinary Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon celebrates a contemporary black STEAM role model, a man whose quiet work enabled the creation of an iconic building reflecting America’s past and future. With a stirring text by Kelly Starling Lyons, vibrant pictures by Laura Freeman, and an afterword from Philip Freelon himself, it is sure to inspire the next generation of dreamers and builders.

    Elementary Level Winner

    William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad
    by Don Tate, Illustrated by Don Tate

      Publication Date: Nov 01, 2020
      List Price: $18.99
      Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
      Classification: Nonfiction
      Target Age Group: Picture Book
      ISBN13: 9781561459353
      Imprint: Peachtree Publishers
      Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
      Parent Company: Peachtree Publishers

      Read a Description of William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad


      Book Description: 

      From Ezra Jack Keats Award-winning author-illustrator Don Tate comes the highly anticipated and remarkable, little-known story of William Still, known as the Father of the Underground Railroad.

      "Inspirational." ―School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

      "Brings deserved attention to the life of a man who dedicated himself to recording the lives of others." ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

      William Still’s parents escaped slavery but had to leave two of their children behind, a tragedy that haunted the family. As a young man, William went to work for the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, where he raised money, planned rescues, and helped freedom seekers who had traveled north. And then one day, a strangely familiar man came into William’s office, searching for information about his long-lost family. Could it be?

      Motivated by his own family’s experience, William began collecting the stories of thousands of other freedom seekers. As a result, he was able to reunite other families and build a remarkable source of information, including encounters with Harriet Tubman, Henry "Box" Brown, and William and Ellen Craft.

      Award-winning author-illustrator Don Tate brings to life the incredible, stranger-than-fiction true story of William Still, a man who dedicated his life to recording the stories of enslaved people fleeing to freedom. Tate’s powerful words and artwork are sure to inspire young readers in this first-ever picture book biography of the Father of the Underground Railroad.

      Also available from Don Tate:
      Carter Reads the Newspaper
      Poet



      Elementary Level Honor

      The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne
      by Lesa Cline-Ransome

        Publication Date: Jan 14, 2020
        List Price: $17.99
        Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
        Classification: Nonfiction
        Target Age Group: Picture Book
        ISBN13: 9781481462891
        Imprint: Paula Wiseman Books
        Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
        Parent Company: CBS Corporation

        Read a Description of The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne


        Book Description: 
        Renowned author Lesa Cline-Ransome and celebrated illustrator John Parra unite to tell the inspiring story of Ethel Payne, a groundbreaking African American journalist known as the First Lady of the Black Press.

        "I’ve had a box seat on history."

        Ethel Payne always had an ear for stories. Seeking truth, justice, and equality, Ethel followed stories from her school newspaper in Chicago to Japan during World War II. It even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as the only black female journalist. Ethel wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or anyone else in charge, earning her the title, "First Lady of the Black Press."

        Fearless and determined, Ethel Payne shined a light on the darkest moments in history, and her ear for stories sought answers to the questions that mattered most in the fight for Civil Rights.