Written by Rachel Walman
We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2016 Children’s History Book Prize! Congratulations to Unbound written by Ann Burg.
The Children’s History Book Prize honors the best historical literature for middle readers. A jury comprising librarians, educators, historians, and families with middle grade readers (as well as voters in our online poll) fell in love with Unbound for its lyrical verse, historical accuracy, and the perspective it adds to the canon of children’s literature about slavery. The characters in Unbound find freedom in a way that most Americans don’t know about: by escaping to the Great Dismal Swamp. The New-York Historical Society values when authors expose young people to complicated, little-known aspects of American history and Unbound does just that. Unbound joins a distinguished group of past winners of this prize, and it definitely belongs among them. Congratulations to Ann Burg and thanks to all of you who helped us see the beauty and historical merits of this pioneering novel in verse!
This year, we are also pleased to announce a new honor, the New Americans Children’s History Book Prize, awarded to It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel written by Firoozeh Dumas.
New this year, the New Americans Prize honors the best American history book, fiction or non-fiction, for middle readers that speaks to history, issues, and personal stories of immigrants in the United States. It is part of our Citizenship Project, which offers free civics and American history workshops and other educational and digital tools to prepare green card holders to succeed on the naturalization test. It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel, also a favorite in our online poll, is a unique portrait of a young girl’s adjustment to life in this country that is made more difficult by political turmoil in her home country. Readers will appreciate the relatable yet specific experiences of Zomorod (aka Cindy) and her family as they deal with prejudice from neighbors who unfairly judge them as the face of an enemy nation. Fortunately, prejudice does not win in this book, and readers will find inspiration in Falafel for how communities can embrace difference instead of fearing it. Congratulations to Firoozeh Dumas!
In April we interviewed Ann Burg and Firoozeh Dumas, both great reads if you haven’t already check them out. Burg and Dumas will be here to accept their awards from representatives of the Museum and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on May 31. You can meet Ann Burg in person at the May 21 Reading into History Family Book Club meeting, when she’ll be available to answer your questions and sign books! Stay tuned for information about a March 2018 Family Book Club meeting featuring Firoozeh Dumas!
Thanks to all who supported this prize, including jurors, at-home readers, fans of the New-York Historical Society, and the publishers who offer great American history books for middle readers year after year.