Jacqueline Woodson, photo courtesy Kalamazoo Public Library

Author Jacqueline Woodson, recently inaugurated National Ambassador for Children’s Literature and a queer mom, won the American Library Association’s (ALA’s) Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for books that have made “a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” Several other LGBTQ children’s books and their authors were also honored at the ALA’s annual Youth Media Awards today.

Woodson is no stranger to ALA accolades. Her 2014 Brown Girl Dreaming won the Coretta Scott King Author Award as well as Newbery and Sibert Honors, and her 2005 Coming on Home Soon, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, won a Caldecott Honor. Her entire oeuvre, with awards from the ALA and beyond, is testimony to the appropriateness of her “substantial and lasting contribution.”

It is worth noting that Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series has been called a “Tea Party manifesto” and its television adaptation was apparently Ronald Reagan’s favorite show. To be fair, though, Wilder’s daughter Rose Wilder Lane was an early Libertarian, but it does not appear that her mother shared her political views. The ALA’s recognition of Woodson, regardless, acknowledges that the American experience is not just that of a White, straight family on the prairie. While Woodson, like Wilder, has had a lasting impact on children’s literature, the two authors show us the great range of what this can mean.

The ALA also this morning announced the Stonewall Book Awards – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award, “presented to English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.” This year’s winners are the young adult novel Little & Lion, by Brandy Colbert, and young adult nonfiction work The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater, with two additional young adult titles named as honor books: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzie Lee, As the Crow Flies, by Melanie Gillman.

Additionally, The Stars Beneath Our Feet, by David Barclay Moore, won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. In the book, a 12-year-old boy in Harlem is dealing with the aftermath of his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting when one of his moms brings him a gift of Legos. The bricks serve as a metaphor for what he will build with his life and how he will do so.

And don’t forget that in addition to these best-of-the-best picks, the ALA’s Rainbow Book List includes many more librarian-recommended, LGBTQ-inclusive books from the past year.

The Youth Media Awards include the prestigious Newbery and Caldecott Awards, but also a number of others that celebrate not only excellence in children’s literature, but also its diversity. It’s worth reading through the whole list of winners to find some great new reads for your family.

Congratulations to all for reminding us that our children need not only diverse and inclusive books, but ones of quality, and that authors and illustrators are rising to the challenge.

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