All Articles » Book Award Season Is in Full Swing for Librarians: Find Out How to WFH (Watch from Home)

Book Award Season Is in Full Swing for Librarians: Find Out How to WFH (Watch from Home)

Photograph of a group at the 1974 Newbery-Caldecott banquet. From left to right: Priscilla Moulton (Newbery-Caldecott Selection Committee), Harve Zemach (Caldecott winner), Margot Zemach (Caldecott winner), Daniel Melcher, Paula Fox (Newbery winner), Rich

For those who don’t already know, many of the nation’s most prestigious honors for literature are administered by librarians—including the Newbery and Caldecott medals, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, and many others.

The winners of these coveted awards are announced in January, but it’s June when the real celebration happens. That’s when librarians get together, don their finest attire and attend gala ceremonies, many of them replete with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, or even a full banquet, to celebrate great literature and hear from the winning authors. The formal attire pictured in this 1974 Newbery-Caldecott banquet photo may no longer be the standard, but these important book award ceremonies are still the highlight of the year for many librarians.

Alas, due to the pandemic, gathering in person to celebrate the winning authors isn’t an option this year.  And while librarians, like everyone else, are excited to get back to meeting in person, virtual award ceremonies have the added benefit of allowing everyone, including you, to participate.

So, book nerds take note. Here’s a list of upcoming book award ceremonies you can watch from home. Formal attire not required.

Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Literature Award

The Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature honors and recognizes individual works about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, based on literary and artistic merit.

Date and time: Friday, June 18, 2021, 1:00 PM CT
Following the ceremony at 2:00 PM CT, there will be a live chat session with several authors and they will answer questions from the audience.  During the live chat, you can submit questions via APALA’s Youtube Channel. More information is available on the APALA website.

How to watch: APALA YouTube Channel

Who's accepting:

  • Adult Fiction Award: C Pam Zhang for How Much of These Hills is Gold: A Novel
  • Adult Non-Fiction: Erika Lee for America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States
  • Youth Literature: Andrew Fukuda for This Light Between Us
  • Children’s Literature: Tae Keller for When You Trap a Tiger
  • Picture Book: Julie Leung (writer) and Chris Sasaki (illustrator) for Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist

Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction


The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, established in 2012, recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. in the previous year and serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material. They are the first single-book awards for adult books given by the American Library Association and reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals who work closely with adult readers. The winners (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) receive a $5,000 cash award. The awards are sponsored by Booklist and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York.


Date and time: Thursday, June 24, 3:00 PM CT

How to watch: Register for the free Zoom session
This free, one-hour celebration is sponsored by NoveList and hosted by Booklist and RUSA.

Who's speaking: At the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence virtual gala, you’ll hear acceptance speeches from Carnegie Fiction winner James McBride, for Deacon King Kong, and Carnegie Nonfiction winner Rebecca Giggs, for Fathoms: The World in the Whale.

The keynote speaker will be novelist and journalist Thrity Umrigar, the best-selling author of, among others, The Weight of HeavenThe World We FoundThe Story HourEverybody’s Son, and The Secrets Between Us.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards


The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are sponsored by the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange (EMIERT), a round table of the American Library Association.


Date and time: Sunday June 27, from 10:00 – 11:00 AM CT

How to watch: American Library Association YouTube Channel

Who's speaking: Jacqueline Woodson will accept the 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Award for Before the Ever After, and Frank Morrison will accept the 2021 CSK Illustrator Award for R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul.

You’ll also hear from Tracy Deonn, winner of the 2021 John Steptoe Award for New Talent, Dorothy Guthrie, winner of the Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and many others.

Join the conversation on Twitter by using #CSK52 and #BookAwardsCelebration.

Pura Belpré Award 25th Anniversary Celebración

The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The award is co-sponsored by REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, the Association for Library Service to Children, the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Date and time: June 27, from 1:00 – 2:30 PM CT

How to watch: American Library Association YouTube Channel

Who's speaking:  Hear from recipients of the 2021 Pura Belpré Award, past recipients, and the award's founders at this ceremony:

  • Raúl Gonzalez, winner of the 2021 Youth Illustrator Medal for “¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat”
  • Ernesto Cisneros, winner of the Children's Narrative Medal for “Efrén Divided”
  • Yamile Saied Méndez, winner of the Young Adult Narrative Medal for “Furia”

Schneider Family Book Awards Celebration

The Schneider Family Book Awards serve as a guide for librarians, parents, and educators searching for the very best titles that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

Date and Time: Sunday, June 27, 1:30 p.m. CT

How to watch: Free Zoom event but registration is required before June 26, 2021.

Who's accepting: Younger Children winners author Jordan Scott and illustrator Sydney Smith for I Talk Like a River, Middle Grades winner author Ann Clare LeZotte for Show Me a Sign, and Teen Award winner I.W. Gregorio,  for This is My Brain in Love. Honorees will also provide remarks.

Newbery/Caldecott – Legacy Banquet

The Newbery and the Caldecott Medals are considered the two most prestigious awards for children's literature in the United States. The Newbery Medal, awarded annually since 1922, honors the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The Caldecott Medal, awarded annually since 1938, is presented to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The Children's Literature Legacy Award (formerly the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award) honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children's lives and experiences. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Children's Literacy Legacy Awards are sponsored and administered by the Association for Library Service to Children.

Date and time: Sunday, June 27, from 7:00 – 8:30 PM CT

How to watch: American Library Association YouTube Channel

Who's speaking: Tae Keller will accept the Newbery Medal for When You Trap a Tiger, and Michaela Goade will accept the 2021 Caldecott Medal for her illustrations in the book We Are Water Protectors written by Carole Lindstrom. You’ll also hear from Mildred D. Taylor, winner of the 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. Her numerous works include Roll of ThunderHear My Cry and All the Days PastAll the Days to Come. Newbery and Caldecott Honorees will also deliver brief messages.

ALSC Awards Ceremony

Often called the “Monday Morning Awards,” this ceremony highlights four of the Association for Library Service to Children’s awards which recognize four distinct types of children’s media. The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is presented to a publisher of an outstanding children’s book translated into English for U.S. publication. The Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award is presented to a producer that has created distinguished digital media for an early learning audience. The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is for beginning readers, and the Robert F. Sibert Medal is for informational books.

Date and time: Monday, June 28th from 10:00-11:00 AM CT

How to watch: American Library Association YouTube Channel

Who's speaking: Over a dozen of notable children’s media creators; publishers, producers, editors, authors, and illustrators will appear in recognition of their work. David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka will deliver a joint acceptance speech for their Geisel Award for See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog. Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann will do the same for their Sibert Medal for Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera.


Photo from ALA Archive: A group at the 1974 Newbery-Caldecott banquet. From left to right: Priscilla Moulton (Newbery-Caldecott Selection Committee), Harve Zemach (Caldecott winner), Margot Zemach (Caldecott winner), Daniel Melcher, Paula Fox (Newbery winner), Richard Jackson (publisher), Bob Verrone, Barbara Rollock (Newbery-Caldecott Selection Committee, chair).

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