The 2019 ChLA Book Award

The ChLA Book Award Committee congratulates this year’s Award and Honor authors, Victoria Ford Smith and Philip Nel. 

Victoria Ford Smith’s Between Generations: Collaborative Authorship in the Golden Age of Children’s Literature, published by the University of Mississippi Press, awed the committee with its scrupulous research, beautiful prose, and, most significantly, its important and timely corrective to our field in its vision of intergenerational collaboration and solidarity. Smith’s text examines creative partnerships between adults and children of the late 19th and early 20th century, working together to author, illustrate, edit, review, and publish texts. Between Generations offers a vision of the agential child that has great potential to transform the direction of the fields of children’s literature and childhood studies.

Philip Nel’s Was the Cat in the Hat Black? The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature and the Need for Diverse Books, published by Oxford University Press, was similarly recognized for its intervention in the scholarly and public conversations about children’s literature.  Nel’s work details the long history of implicit and explicit racism in children’s literature and, in unsparing language, demands action from scholars, publishers, authors, readers, parents, teachers, and society at large to transform the way we represent the world for children.  The committee admired the book’s incredible usefulness for instructors, particularly in terms of wrestling with nostalgia and discomfort, and in the very straightforward “Manifesto for Anti-Racist Children’s Literature” offered in the conclusion that helps communicate the significance of children’s literature studies to a broader contemporary audience.

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