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 2020


Middle/Secondary Winner

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace
by Ashley Bryan

Publication Date:
List Price: $21.99
Format: Hardcover, 112 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9781534404908
Imprint: Atheneum
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Parent Company: CBS Corporation
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Book Description: 
From celebrated author and illustrator Ashley Bryan comes a deeply moving picture book memoir about serving in the segregated army during World War II, and how love and the pursuit of art sustained him.

In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army.

He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness--including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers...but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought.

For the next forty years, Ashley would keep his time in the war a secret. But now, he tells his story.

The story of the kind people who supported him.
The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark.
And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again.

Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor-winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.

Middle/Secondary Honor

Accused!: The Trials of the Scottsboro Boys: Lies, Prejudice, and the Fourteenth Amendment
by Larry Dane Brimner

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $18.99
    Format: Hardcover, 192 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    Target Age Group: Young Adult
    ISBN13: 9781629797755
    Imprint: Calkins Creek
    Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
    Parent Company: Boyds Mills Press
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    Book Description: 
    An ALSC Notable Children’s Book * A Kirkus Reviews Best Book * A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People * Nominee for the 2021-2022 South Carolina Book Award

    This chilling and harrowing account tells the story of the Scottsboro Boys, nine African-American teenagers who, when riding the rails during the Great Depression, found their lives destroyed after two white women falsely accused them of rape. Award-winning author Larry Dane Brimner explains how it took more than eighty years for their wrongful convictions to be overturned.

    In 1931, nine teenagers were arrested as they traveled on a train through Scottsboro, Alabama. The youngest was thirteen, and all had been hoping to find something better at the end of their journey. But they never arrived. Instead, two white women falsely accused them of rape. The effects were catastrophic for the young men, who came to be known as the Scottsboro Boys. Being accused of raping a white woman in the Jim Crow south almost certainly meant death, either by a lynch mob or the electric chair. The Scottsboro boys found themselves facing one prejudiced trial after another, in one of the worst miscarriages of justice in U.S. history. They also faced a racist legal system, all-white juries, and the death penalty. Noted Sibert Medalist Larry Dane Brimner uncovers how the Scottsboro Boys spent years in Alabama’s prison system, enduring inhumane conditions and torture. The extensive back matter includes an author’s note, bibliography, index, and further resources and source notes.

    Middle/Secondary Honor

    This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality
    by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy

      Publication Date:
      List Price: $17.99
      Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
      Classification: Nonfiction
      Target Age Group: Middle Grade
      ISBN13: 9781681198521
      Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing
      Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
      Parent Company: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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      Read a Description of This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality


      Book Description: 

      Recipient of a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor
      Winner of the 2019 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
      A NYPL Top Ten of 2019
      A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

      In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann—clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students—found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history. Based on original research and interviews and featuring backmatter with archival materials and notes from the authors on the co-writing process.



      Elementary Level Winner

      The Undefeated
      by Kwame Alexander, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

      Publication Date:
      List Price: $17.99
      Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
      Classification: Nonfiction
      Target Age Group: Picture Book
      ISBN13: 9781328780966
      Imprint: Versify
      Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
      Parent Company: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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      Read a Description of The Undefeated


      Book Description: 
      The Newbery Award-winning author of THE CROSSOVER pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree.
      Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.



      Elementary Level Honor

      Todos Iguales / All Equal: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove / A Ballad of Lemon Grove
      by Christy Hale

        Publication Date:
        List Price: $19.95
        Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
        Classification: Fiction
        Target Age Group: Early Reader
        ISBN13: 9780892394272
        Imprint: Children’s Book Press
        Publisher: Lee & Low Books
        Parent Company: Lee & Low Books
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        Read a Description of Todos Iguales / All Equal: Un Corrido de Lemon Grove / A Ballad of Lemon Grove


        Book Description: 

        The empowering true story of the 1931 Lemon Grove Incident, in which Mexican families in southern California won the first Mexican American school desegregation case in US history.

        Twelve-year-old Roberto lvarez loved school. He, his siblings, and neighbors attended the Lemon Grove School along with the Anglo children from nearby homes. The children studied and played together as equals.

        In the summer of 1930, the Lemon Grove School Board decided to segregate the Mexican American students. The board claimed the children had a language handicap and needed to be Americanized. When the Mexican families learned of this plan, they refused to let their children enter the small, inferior school that had been erected. They formed neighborhood committee and sought legal help. Roberto, an excellent student who spoke English well, became the plaintiff in a suit filed by the Mexican families. On March 12, 1931, the case of Roberto lvarez v. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District was decided. The judge ruled in favor of the children’s right to equal education, ordering that Roberto and all the other Mexican American students be immediately reinstated in the Lemon Grove School.

        The Lemon Grove Incident stands a major victory in the battle against school segregation, and a testament to the tenacity of an immigrant community and its fight for educational equality.



        Elementary Level Honor

        Carter Reads the Newspaper
        by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Don Tate

          Publication Date:
          List Price: $17.99
          Format: Hardcover, 36 pages
          Classification: Nonfiction
          Target Age Group: Early Reader
          ISBN13: 9781561459346
          Imprint: Peachtree Publishers
          Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
          Parent Company: Peachtree Publishers
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          Read a Description of Carter Reads the Newspaper


          Book Description: 

          Essential Black History Reading

          The first-ever picture book biography of Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History Month

          Carter G. Woodson Book Award (Honor Book), NCSS
          Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award
          Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book
          Top 10 Books for Kids ―New York Public Library
          Best Children’s Books of the Year (Starred) ―Bank Street College of Education

          “An important and inspiring tale well told.” ―Kirkus Reviews

          “Carter G. Woodson didn’t just read history. He changed it.” As the father of Black History Month, he spent his life introducing others to the history of his people.

          Carter G. Woodson was born to two formerly enslaved people ten years after the end of the Civil War. Though his father could not read, he believed in being an informed citizen, so Carter read the newspaper to him every day. As a teenager, Carter went to work in the coal mines, and there he met Oliver Jones, who did something important: he asked Carter not only to read to him and the other miners, but also research and find more information on the subjects that interested them.

          “My interest in penetrating the past of my people was deepened,” Carter wrote. His journey would take him many more years, traveling around the world and transforming the way people thought about history.

          From an award-winning team of author Deborah Hopkinson and illustrator Don Tate, this first-ever picture book biography of Carter G. Woodson emphasizes the importance of pursuing curiosity and encouraging a hunger for knowledge of stories and histories that have not been told.

          Illustrations also feature brief biological sketches of important figures from African and African American history.




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