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.


6 Award Winning and Honored Books for 2017


Elementary Level Honor

The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial
by Susan E. Goodman, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $17.99
    Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    Target Age Group: Picture Book
    ISBN13: 9780802737397
    Imprint: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
    Parent Company: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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    Read a Description of The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial


    Book Description: 
    2017 Orbis Pictus Honor Book
    2017 Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book
    2017 Teachers’ Choice Pick, International Literacy Association
    An NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book of 2017
    In 1847, an African American girl named Sarah Roberts attended school in Boston. One day she was told she could never come back. She didn’t belong. The Otis School was for white children only.
    The Roberts family fought this injustice and made history. Roberts v. City of Boston was the first case challenging our legal system to outlaw segregated schools. Sometimes even losing is a victory. They lost their case but Sarah’s cause was won when people, black and white, stood together and said, No more. Now, right now, it is time for change!
    With gorgeous art from award-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis, The First Step is an inspiring look at the first lawsuit to demand desegregation—long before the American Civil Rights movement, even before the Civil War.
    Backmatter includes: An integration timeline, bios on key people in the book, list of resources, and author’s note.

    Elementary Level Honor

    Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness
    by Donna Janell Bowman, Illustrated by Daniel Minter

      Publication Date:
      List Price: $19.95
      Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
      Classification: Nonfiction
      Target Age Group: Picture Book
      ISBN13: 9781620141489
      Imprint: Lee & Low Books
      Publisher: Lee & Low Books
      Parent Company: Lee & Low Books
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      Read a Description of Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness


      Book Description: 
      William "Doc" Key had a special way with animals. Growing up an enslaved child in Tennessee, Doc was sent to plantations around the state to care for sick and wounded animals. When the Civil War ended and Doc was freed, he began to dream of breeding a winning racehorse. But those dreams were dashed when his colt was born weak and sickly. Although many people would have euthanized the colt, Doc nursed him back to health and named him Jim.Noticing a level of curiosity and eagerness in the horse, Doc began teaching Beautiful Jim Key first to recognize letters, then to read, write, add, subtract, and more. Doc soon took his talented horse on the road, spreading a message of patience and kindness, over cruelty, to all animals.With striking illustrations by Daniel Minter, Step Right Up is the inspiring story of one man and one horse who showed the world the power of kindness.This biography explores Common Core English Language Arts Standards and Social Studies Standards.

      Elementary Level Winner

      Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service
      by Annette Bay Pimentel

        Publication Date:
        List Price: $16.95
        Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
        Classification: Nonfiction
        Target Age Group: Picture Book
        ISBN13: 9781580897112
        Imprint: Charlesbridge
        Publisher: Charlesbridge
        Parent Company: Charlesbridge
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        Read a Description of Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service


        Book Description: 
        The true story of a Chinese American mountain man who fed thirty people for ten days in the wilderness—and helped inspire the creation of the National Park Service.

        Tie Sing was born in the mountains. The mountains were in his blood. But because he was of Chinese descent at a time in America when to be Chinese meant working in restaurants or laundries, Tie Sing’s prospects were limited. But he had bigger plans. He began cooking for mapmakers and soon built a reputation as the best trail cook in California.

        When millionaire Stephen Mather began his quest to create a national park service in 1915, he invited a group of influential men—writers, tycoons, members of Congress, and even a movie star—to go camping in the Sierras. Tie Sing was hired to cook.

        Tie Sing planned diligently. He understood the importance of this trip. But when disaster struck—twice!—and Tie Sing’s supplies were lost, it was his creative spirit and quick mind that saved the day. His sumptuous menus had to be struck and Tie Sing had to start over in order to feed the thirty people in the group for ten whole days. His skills were tested and Tie Sing rose to the challenge.

        On the last night, he fed not just the campers’ bodies, but also their minds, reminding them to remember and protect the mountains.

        2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created by Congress on August 25, 1916.

        Today, you can hike to Sing Peak, named for Tie Sing, in Yosemite National Park.

        Secondary Level Honor

        This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration
        by Linda Barrett Osborne

          Publication Date:
          List Price: $24.95
          Format: Hardcover, 128 pages
          Classification: Nonfiction
          Target Age Group: Young Adult
          ISBN13: 9781419716607
          Imprint: Abrams Books for Young Readers
          Publisher: Abrams
          Parent Company: La Martinière Groupe
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          Read a Description of This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration


          Book Description: 
          A 2017 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist!

          American attitudes toward immigrants are paradoxical. On the one hand, we see our country as a haven for the poor and oppressed; anyone, no matter his or her background, can find freedom here and achieve the “American Dream.” On the other hand, depending on prevailing economic conditions, fluctuating feelings about race and ethnicity, and fear of foreign political and labor agitation, we set boundaries and restrictions on who may come to this country and whether they may stay as citizens. This book explores the way government policy and popular responses to immigrant groups evolved throughout U.S. history, particularly between 1800 and 1965. The book concludes with a summary of events up to contemporary times, as immigration again becomes a hot-button issue. Includes an author’s note, bibliography, and index.

          Secondary Level Honor

          Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans and the American Revolution
          by Gretchen Woelfle, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

            Publication Date:
            List Price: $18.95
            Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
            Classification: Nonfiction
            Target Age Group: Middle Grade
            ISBN13: 9781629793061
            Imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
            Publisher: Hachette Book Group
            Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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            Read a Description of Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans and the American Revolution


            Book Description: 
            The lives of thirteen African-Americans who fought during the Revolutionary War are highlighted in this nonfiction book for young readers by Gretchen Woelfle, illustrated by Caldecott-Honor winning artist R. Gregory Christie.

            Even as American Patriots fought for independence from British rule during the Revolutionary War, oppressive conditions remained in place for the thousands of enslaved and free African Americans living in this country. But African Americans took up their own fight for freedom by joining the British and American armies; preaching, speaking out, and writing about the evils of slavery; and establishing settlements in Nova Scotia and Africa. The thirteen stories featured in this collection spotlight charismatic individuals who answered the cry for freedom, focusing on the choices they made and how they changed America both then and now. These individuals include: Boston King, Agrippa Hull, James Armistead Lafayette, Phillis Wheatley, Elizabeth "Mumbet" Freeman, Prince Hall, Mary Perth, Ona Judge, Sally Hemings, Paul Cuffe, John Kizell, Richard Allen, and Jarena Lee. Includes individual bibliographies and timelines, author note, and source notes.

            Secondary Level Winner

            March (Trilogy Slipcase Set)
            by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

            Publication Date:
            List Price: $49.99
            Format: Paperback, 560 pages
            Classification: Fiction
            Target Age Group: Young Adult
            ISBN13: 9781603093958
            Imprint: Top Shelf Productions
            Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
            Parent Company: Top Shelf Productions
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            Read a Description of March (Trilogy Slipcase Set)


            Book Description: 
            Winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

            Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis. March is the award-winning, #1 bestselling graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the movement, co-written with Andrew Aydin and drawn by Nate Powell. This commemorative set contains all three volumes of March in a beautiful slipcase.

            #1 New York Times and Washington Post Bestseller
            First graphic novel to receive a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
            Winner of the Eisner Award
            A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
            One of YALSA’s Outstanding Books for the College Bound
            One of Reader’s Digest’s Graphic Novels Every Grown-Up Should Read