Normal Public Library Teens

Coretta Scott King Award

Given to African American authors and illustrator for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions, the Coretta Scott King Book Award promotes understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.  The award is designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

2011 Winner

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past. When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education. (M)

2011 Honor Books

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

It seems as if the only progress that’s going on at Progress juvenile facility is moving from juvy jail to real jail. Reese wants out early, but is he supposed to just sit back and let his friend Toon get jumped? Then Reese gets a second chance when he’s picked for the work program at a senior citizens’ home. He doesn’t mean to keep messing up, but it’s not so easy, at Progress or in life. One of the residents, Mr. Hooft, gives him a particularly hard time. If he can convince Mr. Hooft that he’s a decent person, not a criminal, maybe he’ll be able to convince himself. (S)

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Lanesha lives in a tight-knit community in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. She doesn’t have a fancy house like her uptown family or lots of friends like the other kids on her street. But what she does have is Mama Ya-Ya, her fiercely loving caretaker, wise in the ways of the world and able to predict the future. So when Mama Ya-Ya’s visions show a powerful hurricane – Katrina – fast approaching, it’s up to Lanesha to call upon the hope and strength Mama Ya-Ya has given her to help them both survive the storm. (M)

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri and Randy DuBurke

Eleven-year old Roger is trying to make sense of his classmate Robert “Yummy” Sandifer’s death, but first he has to make sense of Yummy’s life. Yummy could be as tough as a pit bull sometimes. Other times he was as sweet as the sugary treats he loved to eat. Was Yummy some sort of monster, or just another kid? As Roger searches for the truth, he finds more and more questions. How did Yummy end up in so much trouble? Did he really kill someone? And why do all the answers seem to lead back to a gang – the same gang to which Roger’s older brother belongs? (S)

2010 Winner

Bad News for Outlaws by Vanda Micheaux Nelson

Sitting tall in the saddle, with a wide-brimmed black hat and twin Colt pistols on his belt, Bass Reeves seemed bigger than life. As a U.S. Marshal – and former slave who escaped to freedom in the Indian Territories – Bass was cunning and fearless. When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive. He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn’t like the notion of a black lawman. For three decades, Bass was the most feared and respected lawman in the territories. He made more than 3,000 arrests, and though he was a crack shot and a quick draw, he only killed fourteen men in the line of duty. (M)

2010 Honor Books

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis

Octavia and Tali are dreading the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. After all, Mare isn’t your typical grandmother. She drives a red sports car, wears stiletto shoes, flippy wigs, and push-up bras, and insists that she’s too young to be called Grandma. But somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there’s more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. (S)

2009 Winner

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson

The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. (M)

2009 Honor Books

Keeping the Night Watch by Hope Anita Smith

So many unanswered questions weigh down thirteen-year-old C.J. as he struggles to understand why his father walked out. His father is back now, though C.J. is not as quick to forgive as the other members of his family. He still feels the weight of responsibility that fell on his shoulders when Daddy was gone, and he?s not prepared to give that up. But C.J.?s anger is making him a stranger in his own home, and instead of life seeming better now that Daddy has returned, it feels worse. (M)
The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas

Black comes in all shades from dark to light, and each is rich and beautiful in this collection of simple, joyful poems and glowing portraits that show African American diversity and connections. (M)

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford

Before the legend of Billie Holiday, there was a girl named Eleanora. The world, however, would know her as Billie Holiday, possibly one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. Eleanora’s journey into legend took her through pain, poverty and run-ins with the law. By the time she was fifteen, she knew she possessed something that could change her life – a voice. Her remarkable voice led her to a place in the spotlight with some of the era’s hottest big bands. Billie Holiday sang as if she lived each lyric and in many ways she had. (M)

2008 Winner

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Eleven-year-old Elijah lives in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves near the American border. He’s the first child in town to be born free, and he ought to be famous just for that. Unfortunately, all that most people see is a fragile boy who’s scared of snakes and talks too much. But everything changes when a former slave steals money from Elijah’s friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Now it’s up to Elijah to track down the thief – and his dangerous journey just might make a hero out of him, if only he can find the courage to get back home. (M)

2008 Honor Books

November Blues by Sharon M. Draper

When November Nelson loses her boyfriend, Josh, to a pledge stunt gone horribly wrong, she thinks her life can’t possibly get any worse. But Josh left something behind that will change November’s life forever, and now she’s faced with the biggest decision she could ever imagine. How in the world will she tell her mom? And how will Josh’s parents take the news? She’s never needed a friend more. (S)

Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali by Charles R. Smith Jr.

From the moment a fired-up teenager from Kentucky won 1960 Olympic gold to the day in 1996 when a retired legend, hands shaking from Parkinson’s, returned to raise the Olympic torch, the boxer known as “The Greatest” waged many a fight. Some were in the ring, against opponents like Sonny Liston and Joe Frazier; others were against societal prejudice and against a war he refused to support because of his Islamic faith. Charles R. Smith Jr.’s rap-inspired verse weaves and bobs and jabs with relentless energy, while Bryan Collier’s bold collage artwork matches every move — capturing the “Louisville loudmouth with the great gift of rhyme” who shed the name Cassius Clay to take on the world as Muhammad Ali. (M, S)

2007 Winner

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Amari’s life was once perfect. Engaged to the handsomest man in her tribe, adored by her family, and living in a beautiful village, she could not have imagined everything could be taken away from her in an instant. But when slave traders invade her village and brutally murder her entire family, Amari finds herself dragged away to a slave ship headed to the Carolinas, where she is bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday present. Survival seems all that Amari can hope for. But then an act of unimaginable cruelty provides her with an opportunity to escape, and with an indentured servant named Polly she flees to Fort Mose, Florida, in search of sanctuary at the Spanish colony. Can the illusive dream of freedom sustain Amari and Polly on their arduous journey, fraught with hardship and danger? (S)

2007 Honor Book

The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes

Paris has just moved in with the Lincoln family, and she isn’t thrilled to be in yet another foster home. She has a tough time trusting people, and she misses her brother, who’s been sent to a boys’ home. Over time, the Lincolns grow on Paris. But no matter how hard she tries to fit in, she can’t ignore the feeling that she never will, especially in a town that’s mostly white while she is half black. It isn’t long before Paris has a big decision to make about where she truly belongs. (M)

2006 Winner

Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue by Julius Lester

In 1859, Emma is a slave owned by Pierce Butler and caretaker of his two daughters.  Pierce is a man with a mounting gambling debt and household to protect. Emma wants to teach his daughters—one who opposes slavery and one who supports it—to have kind hearts. Meanwhile, in a desperate bid to survive, Pierce decides to cash in his “assets” and host the largest slave auction in American history. And on that day, the skies open up and weep endlessly on the proceedings below, as more than 400 slaves are sold. (S)

2006 Honor Books

Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden

Based on an actual memoir written by Maritcha Rémond Lyons, who was born and raised in New York City, this poignant story tells what it was like to be a black child born free during the days of slavery. Everyday experiences are interspersed with high-point moments, such as visiting the U.S.’s first world’s fair. Also included are the Draft Riots of 1863, when Maritcha and her siblings fled to Brooklyn while her parents stayed behind to protect their home. The book concludes with her fight to attend a whites-only high school in Providence, Rhode Island, and her triumphant victory, making her the first black person in its graduating class. (M)

Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes

Sam can’t believe it when his father leaves the family to marry another woman – and a white woman, at that. The betrayal cuts deep – Sam had been so close to his dad, he idolized him. Now who can he turn to, who can he trust? Even God seems to have ditched him.

Ishmael is his father’s first son, the heir, his favorite. But when his father is visited by mysterious strangers who claim that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, will finally give birth to a legitimate son, Ishmael is worried. And when baby Isaac arrives, Ishmael becomes more isolated from his father. Could Abraham’s God, who had spoken to Ishmael’s mother, to whom he has made countless sacrifices, now betray him in favor of this new son? (M, S)

A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

In 1955 people all over the United States knew that Emmett Louis Till was a fourteen-year-old African American boy lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, the open-casket funeral held by his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew wide media attention. In a profound and chilling poem, award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson reminds us of the boy whose fate helped spark the civil rights movement. (M, S)

 
* For earlier Coretta Scott King Award winners, visit here. *
 

Grade Level Interest
M Middle School (defined as grades 6-8).
S Senior High (defined as grades 9-12).
A/YA Adult-marketed book recommended for teens.

 
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