Daily Archives: May 21, 2012

The Irma Black Award

Last Thursday I was checking my various social media sites as I’m wont to do at this hour (early morn) when I came across Bank Street College uber librarian Lisa von Drasek expressing her excitement for that morning’s Irma Black Award ceremony. Despite living nearby I’d never attended because I was always in school, but I happened to be home that morning getting ready for a journey out-of-town and realized with much delight that I could go at last. It was a lovely ceremony and I realized just what a wonderful award the Irma Black is, thoughtfully designed and developed to be truly child-centered. Here’s how the College describes it:

The Irma S. and James H. Black Award is given annually to a book that exemplifies excellence in text and illustration together. The four finalists have been chosen by 3rd and 4th graders from a semifinalist list selected by a committee of educators. The winner receives a gold seal and the other three finalists become honor books with a silver seal.

And now the process is no longer limited to children at the Bank Street school, but can be children from anywhere. Details on how you or your school can participate for the 2013 Award are here.  An excellent curriculum featuring this process is available here. This year Lisa blogged about the selection process at SLJ:

In “How Do We Get to the Four Finalists Part I” she describes how the books are submitted, how she and Kristin Freda, the Bank Street Library Director, read them all, and then how they narrow down the list to approximately 80-100 books.

In “How Do We Get to the Four Finalists Part II” Lisa describes the committee’s process in presenting, considering, debating, and finally voting for sixteen books. These then go to children for the final selection.

The award ceremony on Thursday was lovely.  Paul O. Zelinsky gave a delightful keynote after which the awards were given.

The 2012 winner is:

What Animals Really like, written and illustrated by Fiona Robinson; published by Abrams Books for Young Readers.

The three honor books are:

You Will Be My Friend, written and illustrated by Peter Brown; published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen; published by Candlewick Press.

All the Way to America, written and illustrated by Dan Yaccorino; published by Knopf, Random House Children’s Books.

Want to involve a class of 3rd or 4th graders in a thoughtfully and carefully developed award process?  If so, the Irma Black Award is one to consider.  Congratulations to all involved this year: creators, adult  specialists, and the children most of all!



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