Category Archives: Awards – Sibert Informational Books

Award given for the most distinguished informational book for children.

Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

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Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Candlewick Press, 2015
2016 Caldecott Honor Book
2016 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
2016 John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award Winner

Written in free verse poetry this was my introduction to Ms. Hamer, the spirit of the civil rights movement.  I had not heard her story, but the riveting poems brought me into her world and shed light on a person instrumental in both building the movement and holding it together.

Born in 1917, her mother was paid $50 by the plantation owner for producing a future field hand; the money helped them get through the winter as sharecroppers.  Fannie Lou was six when she started picking cotton.  As a child, she never understood why black people were poor and whites were not.  She married, adopted two girls, and when the battle over voting began, took the ‘literacy’ test.  After that, she had to go on the run.  She sustained a severe beating that was to affect her the rest of her life.  Figuring she had nothing to lose, she continued speaking up and singing to inspire others to stand up for themselves.

A well written and inspiring, as well as educational, book.

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Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Books, 2014
Newbery Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Award
Siebert Informational Book Medal
National Book Award 

Written in open verse, Jacqueline Woodson provides a rich view of herself growing up in the 60’s in South Carolina and New York.  In a time where she is still referred to as a colored girl, she takes readers on a leisurely stroll, inviting a deep excitement to swell inside as they digest her phrases, images, dreams, and yearnings.  Walking in her shoes, readers can feel the joy of freedom and the confusion of racism poking at the young girl unable to respond, but knowing it’s wrong, just plain wrong.  Woodson’s writing is vivid, startling, fascinating, and from the heart.  It’s easy to see why she’s won so many writing awards.

A special treat for writers, Woodson walks readers through the inside thoughts of a young writer in the making, including the joy of her first composition notebook well before she could even write.  She shares the secret to her writing—listening—and with each story, she spills delectable foods across the table for readers to taste, savor, and digest.  This is not a book readers will want to breeze through, it is one in which readers will want to linger, contemplate, and experience.  Sure to be an award winner.

Originally published in San Francisco Book Review, December 2014

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Almost Astronauts, 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

Almost Astronauts, 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
Tanya Lee Stone
Candlewick, 2009

Always attracted to books about successful women, I discovered a rich telling of 13 women with very different stories who fought to do what was natural to them, fly.  While these 13 women were unable—in the late 50’s/early 60’s—to break the barriers against women and were unable to join NASA’s space program, they were able to lay strategic groundwork that later allowed other women into NASA’s program.

We meet Jerrie Cobb, the woman who challenged the male-dominated space program, secretly taking the same tests the men took to get into the program.  She passed them, far surpassing the men.  But the world wasn’t ready for women as equals yet.

A compelling slice in time, the author weaves 13 stories in with stories of key supporters as well as key non-supporters. She helps readers understand the era, and includes insights learned from some of the original 13 women.  Using dozens of photos we see the women who logged thousands of flight hours, in a time when they endured blatant discrimination for even that.  An inspiring book, especially for young people aspiring to fly.  Adults will enjoy, too.

Almost Astronauts won both the Seibert Information Books Medal and the Amelia Bloomer Award.

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