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The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards

Children's Books that Promote Peace and Understanding


As I researched children's books that promote peace, justice, and equality, I kept hearing about the Jane Addams Children's Book Awards. The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards were established in 1953 by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and the Jane Addams Peace Association. As you may know, Jane Addams helped found Hull House in 1889 in Chicago to serve poor immigrants and was an active pacifist. In 1931, Jane Addams became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

According to its Web site, "The Jane Addams Peace Association (JAPA) was founded in 1948 'to foster a better understanding between the people of the world toward the end that wars may be avoided and a more lasting peace enjoyed.'" JAPA is the educational affiliate of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, which was founded in 1915. Jane Addams was its first president.

Each year, a national committee chooses one picture book and one longer book for the Jane Addams Children's Book Awards and may also choose several other books to honor.

    "The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards are given annually to the children's books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence." (Jane Addams Children's Book Awards Web site)
What types of books are eligible? The committee looks at books published the preceding year for children between the ages of two and fourteen. Unlike many other awards, the Jane Addams Children's Book Awards extend eligibility to both translations and titles published in English in other countries. Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are all eligible.

The Award winners used to be announced on September 6 of each year, Jane Addams' birth date. It's ironic that the 2001 winners were announced just five days before 9/11 and the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Since 2003, the award winners have been announced on April 28, the anniversary of the founding of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).

The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards Winners

While you will probably recognize some of the titles on the list of Jane Addams Children's Book Award Winners and Honor Books, many of these excellent children's books may be new to you. Some of the award winners that I particularly recommend include: Each Kindness, written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis; Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson; Inside Out & Back Again , by Thanhha Lai; Ruth and the Green Book, by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, with illustrations by Floyd Cooper; Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice, by Phillip Hoose; Birmingham, 1963, by Carole Boston Weatherford; and The Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos, written by Lucía González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre. As you and your family talk about peace, tolerance, social justice, and equality, you will undoubtedly find some of these books helpful in family discussions.

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