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 2012


Elementary Honor


A Nation’s Hope: the Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
by Matt De La Peña



Publication Date:
List Price: $17.99 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x40
ISBN13: 9780803731677
Imprint: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Book Description: 
On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent America’s war with Germany. This elegant and powerful picture book biography centers around the historic fight in which Black and White America were able to put aside prejudice and come together to celebrate our nation’s ideals.



Elementary Winner


Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist
by Q. L. Pearce and Gina Capaldi



Publication Date:
List Price: $17.95 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x32
ISBN13: 9780761352570
Imprint: Millbrook Press
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Parent Company: Lerner Publishing Group

Book Description: 
”I remember the day I lost my spirit.” So begins the story of Gertrude Simmons, also known as Zitkala-Sa, which means Red Bird. Born in 1876 on the Yankton Sioux reservation in South Dakota, Zitkala-Sa willingly left her home at age eight to go to a boarding school in Indiana. But she soon found herself caught between two worlds—white and Native American.

At school she missed her mother and her traditional life, but Zitkala-Sa found joy in music classes. “My wounded spirit soared like a bird as I practiced the piano and violin,” she wrote. Her talent grew, and when she graduated, she became a music teacher, composer, and performer.

Zitkala-Sa found she could also “sing” to help her people by writing stories and giving speeches. As an adult, she worked as an activist for Native American rights, seeking to build a bridge between cultures.

The coauthors have told about Zitkala-Sa’s life by weaving together pieces from her own stories. The artist’s acrylic illustrations and collages of photos and primary source documents round out the vivid portrait of Zitkala-Sa, a frightened child whose spirit “would rise again, stronger and wiser for the wounds it had suffered.”

Middle Winner


Music Was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein (Junior Library Guild Selection)
by Susan Goldman Rubin



Publication Date:
List Price: $19.95 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x192
ISBN13: 9781580893442
Imprint: Charlesbridge
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Parent Company: Charlesbridge

Book Description: 
”Life without music is unthinkable.” Leonard Bernstein, Findings

When Lenny was two years old, his mother found that the only way to soothe her crying son was to turn on the Victrola. When his aunt passed on her piano to Lenny’s parents, the boy demanded lessons. When Lenny went to school, he had the most fun during “singing hours.”

But Lenny’s love of music was met with opposition from the start. Lenny’s father, a successful businessman, wanted Lenny to follow in his footsteps. Additionally, the classical music world of the 1930s and 1940s was dominated by Europeans no American Jewish kid had a serious chance to make a name for himself in this field.

Beginning with Lenny’s childhood in Boston and ending with his triumphant conducting debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic when he was just twenty-five, MUSIC WAS IT draws readers into the energetic, passionate, challenging, music-filled life of young Leonard Bernstein.

Archival photographs, mostly from the Leonard Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress, illustrate this fascinating biography, which also includes a foreword by Bernstein’s daughter Jamie. Extensive back matter includes biographies of important people in Bernstein’s life, as well as a discography of his music.

Middle Winner


Saga of the Sioux: An Adaptation from Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
by Dee Brown



Publication Date:
List Price: $19.99 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x224
ISBN13: 9780805093643
Imprint: Henry Holt & Company (BYR)
Publisher: Macmillan
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck

Book Description: 
This new adaptation of Dee Brown’s multi-million copy bestseller, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, is filled with photographs and maps to bring alive the tragic saga of Native Americans for middle grade readers. Focusing on the Sioux nation as representative of the entire Native American story, this meticulously researched account allows the great chiefs and warriors to speak for themselves about what happened to the Sioux from 1860 to the Massacre of Wounded Knee in 1891. This dramatic story is essential reading for every student of U.S. history.

Secondary Winner


Black & White: The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor
by Larry Dane Brimner



Publication Date:
List Price: $16.95 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x112
ISBN13: 9781590787663
Imprint: Calkins Creek
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
Parent Company: Boyds Mills Press

Book Description: 
In the nineteen fifties and early sixties, Birmingham, Alabama, became known as Bombingham. At the center of this violent time in the fight for civil rights, and standing at opposite ends, were Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor. From his pulpit, Shuttlesworth agitated for racial equality, while Commissioner Connor fought for the status quo. Relying on court documents, police and FBI reports, newspapers, interviews, and photographs, author Larry Dane Brimner first covers each man’s life and then brings them together to show how their confrontation brought about significant change to the southern city. The author worked closely with Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute as well as with Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and his wife to bring together this Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, ALA Notable Children’s book, and Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of the Year.