Monday, January 21, 2008

Coretta Scott King

Happy King day! What with this being an election year, and Atlanta as the center of all things MLK related, I've been thinking a lot about the King legacy. It's undeniable that Martin Luther King's impact on our nation is tremendous.

But here at Little Shop of Stories, the King family member who's legacy seems most immediate is Coretta Scott King. The Coretta Scott King award has had an amazing impact on children's books over it's nearly 40 year history.

Did you know that both Ozzie Davis and Sidney Poitier have won Coretta Scott King awards? And poet Nikki Grimes? Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison? By my count, Virginia Hamilton has won or been honored eight times, and Walter Dean Myers has won or been honored nine.

Christopher Paul Curtis received both a Coretta Scott King honor and a Newbery honor for his first book The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, a feat he repeated this year with his latest novel, Elijah of Buxton.

It's not just the list, though. What the Coretta Scott King award has brought to children's literature cannot simply be measured in names and titles. It has forever broadened the kind of books that readers want to read, publishers look to publish, and writers put to paper.

Thank you, then, Coretta Scott King. Thank you for recognizing that working for a world where children of all colors can live together in peace sometimes begins in the pages of a book.

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