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I am honored to be the co-chair of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award committee. My committee was amazing!

We had so many wonderful books that we considered, but today is about sharing the winners! First, I would like to celebrate that our 2021 list includes highlighted representation of 8 different disabilities; 4 own voices authors, including the 3 winners!, + 1 own voice contributor; and 4 creators of color! But without further adieu, here are the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award Winners:

The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Awards, which honor authors or illustrators for the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. The award was announced today at 8 a.m. Central Standard Time during the American Library Association’s ALA Midwinter Virtual, held Jan. 22– 26. 

Recipients are selected in three categories: younger children (age 0–8), middle grades (age 9–13) and teens (age 14–18). Winners will receive $5,000 and a framed plaque.  

This is the first year the Schneider Award has awarded two honors for younger children:

“All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything,”  written by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Nabi H. Ali, foreword by Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, and published by Sourcebook eXplore, an imprint of Sourcebook Kids, is a Schneider Family Book Award younger children honor title.  

“Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin” written by Tracy Newman, illustrated by Abigail Halpin and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams, is a Schneider Family Book Award younger children honor title.  

“I Talk Like a River,” written by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith, and published by Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, won the award for younger children.

Jordan Scott, poet and debut picture book author, and award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith tell an own voices story of a young boy who feels isolated  and unable to communicate because of his stutter. On a bad speech day, his father takes him to the river to help him understand the beauty of his voice.

“The committee was impressed by this personal and powerful exploration of stuttering. This book combines high-quality writing, well-matched illustrations, and accurate portrayal of a disability,” said Award co-chairs Susan Hess and Kellee Moye.

This is the first year the Schneider Award has awarded two honors for middle grade:

“Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!” written by Sarah Kapit, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

“When Stars are Scattered,” written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, color by Iman Geddy, and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

“Show Me a Sign” by Ann Clare LeZotte and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc., won the award for middle grades.

Ann Clare LeZotte, a Deaf librarian and author, tells the story of Mary Lambert, a young deaf girl growing up on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in 1805 where 1 in 25 of the population is deaf. Mary feels safe in her community until a scientist arrives to study the source of the deafness.

“The committee saw this book as a labor of love for an author wanting to represent the Deaf community of Martha’s Vineyard and the importance of its history,” said Award co-chairs Susan Hess and Kellee Moye.

The committee did not select a Schneider Family Book Award teen honor title this year.

“This is My Brain in Love” written by I.W. Gregorio and published by Little Brown and Company, a division of Hatchette Books, won the award for teens.

Told in dual narrative, I.W. Gregorio’s second YA novel is an own voices story exploring mental illness stigma, race and culture, and relationships. Jocelyn Wu and Will Domenici, high schoolers who find romance while trying to keep Jocelyn’s family restaurant from failing, fight to save it all, including their relationship.

“The committee believes this well-written novel reveals the complexities of mental illness as a continuum and highlights challenges and hope for teens with anxiety and depression,” said Award co-chairs Susan Hess and Kellee Moye.

Members of the 2021 committee include Susan Hess (Co-Chair), New York City School Librarian, Retired, Osprey, Florida; Kellee Moye (Co-Chair), Teacher-Librarian, Hunter’s Creek Middle School, Winter Park, Florida (Co-Chair); Cathy Andronik, Brien McMahon High School, Retired, Norwalk Public Library, Bridgeport, Connecticut; Rachel G. Payne, Coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, New York; Sharon Powers, Media Specialist, Lake Nona Middle School, Orlando, Florida; Pamela Jo Renfrow, School Librarian, Memphis, Tennessee; Mary-Kate Sableski, Assistant Professor, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio; Scot Smith, Librarian, Robertsville Middle School, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Alyson Beecher (Ex-Officio), Educator, Glendale Unified School District, Glendale, California.

For more information on the Schneider Family Book Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.

I am so proud of these choices. Have you read any of these? If not, what do you plan on reading?

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Also, if you missed the American Library Association Youth Media Awards, they were recorded, so it isn’t too late! Check it out at https://ala.unikron.com/!

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3 Responses to 2021 Schneider Family Book Awards!

  1. Susan Hess says:

    Wonderful post. Such an honor to Co-Chair with you.

  2. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    What a great selection of books! I’ve read and loved When Stars Are Scattered, so I’m thrilled to see it as an honor! I will try to cram Show Me a Sign and This Is My Brain in Love into my future reading. Thank you all for these wonderful selections!

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