Children’s History Book Prize
Through the Children’s History Book Prize, the New-York Historical Society honors the best children’s historical literature in the United States and encourages authors to continue to create engaging and challenging narratives that provide a window into the past for middle readers and their families. The winning author is awarded $10,000. The jury comprises librarians, educators, historians, and families with middle-grade readers.
The New-York Historical Society is dedicated to exploring history through characters and narrative. To support this endeavor, the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library in the DiMenna Children’s History Museum has a wide selection of children’s books about American and New York history, and hosts a variety of book-focused family programs, including the Reading into History Family Book Club, Saturday and Sunday Story Time, and Little New-Yorkers..
Winner of the 7th Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar & Kathleen Van Cleve
A young enslaved woman escapes bondage in the household of George and Martha Washington. Ona Judge was the daughter of a white indentured servant, Andrew Judge, and an enslaved woman, Betty, on the Mount Vernon plantation, becoming Martha’s personal maid. In 1796, Martha Washington decided to give Ona as a wedding present to her granddaughter—but Ona made her escape by ship to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Despite hardship, Ona Judge remained free, thwarting the most powerful man in America. Dunbar, whose adult version of this story was a National Book Award finalist, and co-author Van Cleve have crafted a compelling read for young people. —Kirkus Review, Nov. 26, 2018
Finalists for the 7th Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Fighting for the Forest by P. O'Connell Pearson
One of President Franklin Roosevelt’s first New Deal projects was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work during the Great Depression. The CCC constructed or improved hundreds of state and national parks, restored nearly 120 million acres of land, and planted some 3 billion trees. The narrative is focused on the experiences of those who served with helpful background information provided in boxed featurettes. An informative, inspiring look at desperate times and how government can achieve great things through good leadership. —Kirkus Review, June 23, 2019
Last of the Name by Rosanne Parry
Twelve-year-old Danny O’Carolan and his older sister, Kathleen, escape hunger and oppression in Ireland for the promise of a new life in America. But life in 1863 New York City is scarcely better for two orphans trying to find their way in the world. The only work available is that of a lady’s maid and a laundress. Danny gamely dons a dress in hopes of passing as a girl, but he lives for the mornings when he can escape into the city and be himself and earns pennies for his dancing and singing. Familiar historical events are given new life through Danny’s wide-eyed optimism and Kathleen’s determination. And while the principals are Irish, their neighborhood boasts as diverse a population as modern Manhattan. —Kirkus Review, Jan. 15, 2019
This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce & Debbie Levy
An autobiographical account in verse of a teen pioneering school desegregation in the South. Jo Ann Allen lives up on a hill with the other black residents of Clinton, Tennessee. They travel to Knoxville to attend the black schools, but in 1956, two years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, a judge in Knoxville tells Clinton officials that they must integrate immediately. Jo Ann is one of 12 black students who enroll in the all-white Clinton High School. With co-author Levy, she tells her story of that year in poems grouped by her relationship to her town. —Kirkus Review, Sept. 30, 2018
Winner of the 6th Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages
Katy calls herself Casey and tries out for Little League as a boy. She makes the team, but her ruse is discovered, and she is ruled ineligible. Katy doesn’t give up and in a reply to her letter to Little League headquarters, she is informed that the game had always been solely for males. Determined to find proof that girls played baseball, Katy meticulously begins her research, enlarging her parameters to dovetail it with an assigned fifth-grade project. Klages seamlessly interweaves Katy’s research with the world-changing events of 1957, from Sputnik to Little Rock, allowing readers to access the information with Katy. – starred Kirkus Review, Mar. 2018
A real-life sports pioneer, Maria Pepe helped break the gender barrier in Little League baseball in 1973. Pepe joined Klages to celebrate Out of Left Field at the New-York Historical Society’s Book Prize ceremony.
Finalists for the 6th Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Facing Frederick by Tonya Bolden
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
Winner of the 5th Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi (Authors), Yutaka Houlette (Illustrator)
When Fred Korematsu, a young Japanese-American man, defied U.S. governmental orders by refusing to report to prison camps during World War II, he and his allies set in motion a landmark civil liberties case. Written in free verse, Fred’s story engages in powerful bursts and shows how speaking out brings complex consequences. Enhanced with pictures and archival materials, well-researched and approachable historical essays interspersed throughout. A must-read for all civics classrooms. – starred Kirkus Review, November 16, 2016
Finalists for the 5th annual Children’s History Book Prize
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
This Is Just a Test by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School
Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
Winner of the 4th Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg
When Grace turns nine, she is forced to leave the daily work of helping Aunt Sara tend her baby brothers and the daily joy of seeing Mama come home each night from the fields—she must now work in the plantation kitchen. Faced with the horror of being permanently separated from her family, she urges them all to flee to the swamps. Told through Grace's eyes, the story unfolds with a combination of historical precision, honesty, and adventure. Burg’s research is based in part on narratives of the formerly enslaved, collected by the Federal Writers Project. – Kirkus Review, June 22, 2016
Winner of the New Americans Prize:
It Ain’t So Awful Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
After a rocky start, Cindy (Zomorod to her parents) finds a comfortable niche in her California middle school until political upheaval and revolution in Iran reach the United States, threatening her future and her family’s safety. Her engineer dad, who loves to talk about the oil industry, and her unhappy mom, who won’t learn English, pose bigger obstacles to fitting in. On her own journey to maturity, Cindy deftly guides young readers through Iran’s complicated realities in this fresh take on the immigrant experience—authentic, funny, and moving from beginning to end. – Kirkus Review, February 17, 2016
Finalists for the 4th Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter, Nellie Bly by Deborah Noyes
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Winner of the 3rd Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Muñoz Ryan’s Echo beautifully weaves together the individual stories of a boy in Germany during the early 1930s, two orphans in Pennsylvania during the mid-1930s, and a Mexican girl in California in the early 1940s as the same harmonica lands in their lives, binding them by an invisible thread of destiny. All the children face daunting challenges—rescuing a father from the Nazis, keeping a brother out of an orphanage, and protecting the farm of a Japanese family during internment—until their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.
Finalists for the 3rd Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney
I Don't Know How the Story Ends by J.B. Cheaney
My Near-Death Adventures by Alison DeCamp
Winner of the 2nd Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost
Helen Frost brings us a rare story, written completely in verse, of two boys growing up in the Indiana Territory in 1812. Anikwa and James’ worlds are the same and totally different. Both are 12-year-olds who love to hunt and explore the natural world. But when war between the United States and Great Britain breaks out in their own backyards in Fort Wayne, Indiana, precious commodities like salt become scarce. This conflict threatening the lives of Anikwa’s Miami tribe and white settlers like James. Frost shows us how the War of 1812 divided native and settler communities who had enjoyed a brief period of peace and mutual dependence, and gives readers a peek at a conflict rarely explored in schools.
Finalists for the 2nd Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
Winner of the 1st Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
In 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas, painfully shy 12-year-old Marlee sees her city and family divided over school integration, but her friendship with Liz, a new student, helps her find her voice and fight against racism.
Finalists for the 1st Annual Children’s History Book Prize:
Crow by Barbara Wright
Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
To submit books for consideration for the 8th Annual New-York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize, please send six reader copies to:
Director, DiMenna Children’s History Museum
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Only books published in 2021 are eligible. Submissions must be received no later than October 1, 2021.
The New-York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize is supported by an anonymous donor.