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 2015


Elementary Winner


Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
by Duncan Tonatiuh



Publication Date:
List Price: $18.95 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x40
ISBN13: 9781419710544
Imprint: Abrams Books
Publisher: Abrams
Parent Company: La Martinière Groupe

Book Description: 
A 2015 Pura Belpr Illustrator Honor Book and a 2015 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a Whites only school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

Praise for Separate is Never Equal STARRED REVIEWS ”Tonatiuh masterfully combines text and folk-inspired art to add an important piece to the mosaic of U.S. civil rights history.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Younger children will be outraged by the injustice of the Mendez family story but pleased by its successful resolution. Older children will understand the importance of the 1947 ruling that desegregated California schools, paving the way for Brown v. Board of Education seven years later. —School Library Journal, starred review

“Tonatiuh (Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote) offers an illuminating account of a family’s hard-fought legal battle to desegregate California schools in the years before Brown v. Board of Education.” —Publishers Weekly

“Pura Belpr Award winning Tonatiuh makes excellent use of picture-book storytelling to bring attention to the 1947 California ruling against public-school segregation.” —Booklist

“The straightforward narrative is well matched with the illustrations in Tonatiuh’s signature style, their two-dimensional perspective reminiscent of the Mixtec codex but collaged with paper, wood, cloth, brick, and (Photoshopped) hair to provide textural variation. This story deserves to be more widely known, and now, thanks to this book, it will be.” —The Horn Book Magazine

Middle Honor


Searching For Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl In America
by Tonya Bolden



Publication Date:
List Price: $21.95 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Nonfiction
Page Count: x80
ISBN13: 9781419708466
Imprint: Abrams Books
Publisher: Abrams
Parent Company: La Martinière Groupe

Book Description: 
Sarah Rector was once famously hailed as ?the richest black girl in America.” Set against the backdrop of American history, her tale encompasses the creation of Indian Territory, the making of Oklahoma, and the establishment of black towns and oil-rich boomtowns.
Rector acquired her fortune at the age of eleven. This is both her story and that of children just like her: one filled with ups and downs amid bizarre goings-on and crimes perpetrated by greedy and corrupt adults. From a trove of primary documents, including court and census records and interviews with family members, author Tonya Bolden painstakingly pieces together the events of Sarah’s life and the lives of those around her.
The book includes a glossary, a bibliography, and an index.

Praise for Searching for Sarah Rector
STARRED REVIEWS
"This handsome volume with its many photographs is carefully sourced and has a helpful glossary, illustration credits and index. Bolden admirably tells a complex story while modeling outstanding research strategy, as her insightful author’s note attests."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"This book will be extremely useful to teachers and librarians seeking material to align with Common Core State Standards dealing with the craft of writing of informational text."
—School Library Journal, starred review

"Bolden’s remarks on tracking down Sarah’s story will appeal to those who enjoy untangling historical mysteries."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Middle Winner


The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement
by Teri Kanefield



Publication Date:
List Price: $19.95 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x56
ISBN13: 9781419707964
Imprint: Abrams Books
Publisher: Abrams
Parent Company: La Martinière Groupe

Book Description: 
Before the Little Rock Nine, before Rosa Parks, before Martin Luther King Jr. and his March on Washington, there was Barbara Rose Johns, a teenager who used nonviolent civil disobedience to draw attention to her cause. In 1951, witnessing the unfair conditions in her racially segregated high school, Barbara Johns led a walkout—the first public protest of its kind demanding racial equality in the U.S.—jumpstarting the American civil rights movement. Ridiculed by the white superintendent and school board, local newspapers, and others, and even after a cross was burned on the school grounds, Barbara and her classmates held firm and did not give up. Her school’s case went all the way to the Supreme Court and helped end segregation as part of Brown v. Board of Education.

Secondary Honor


Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
by Susan Goldman Rubin



Publication Date:
List Price: $18.95 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x144
ISBN13: 9780823429202
Imprint: Holiday House
Publisher: Holiday House
Parent Company: Holiday House, Inc.

Book Description: 
This riveting account of the murder of three civil rights crusaders in Mississippi offers new interviews with volunteers from that fateful summer and many never-before-seen photographs.

Secondary Winner


The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
by Steve Sheinkin



Publication Date:
List Price: $19.99 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Children’s
Page Count: x208
ISBN13: 9781596437968
Imprint: Roaring Brook Press
Publisher: Macmillan
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck

Book Description: 
An astonishing civil rights story from Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin. On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America’s armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.This thoroughly-researched and documented book can be worked into multiple aspects of the common core curriculum.