Tales about a girl with autism and a boy who’s nonverbal are among the books being honored for portraying the disability experience as part of a prestigious award given alongside the famed Newbery and Caldecott Medals.
The American Library Association said this week that it has named three winners and four honorees for its annual Schneider Family Book Awards.
The awards recognize authors and illustrators for books aimed at each of three age groups: young children, middle grades and teen. To qualify, stories must “portray the emotional, mental or physical disability as part of a full life, not as something to be pitied.”
The winner in the young children’s category is “I Talk Like a River,” which tells the story of a boy who stutters. Two books received the young children’s honor title — “All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything,” about a girl who uses a wheelchair and joins in crawling up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to advocate for disability rights, and “Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin,” about violinist Itzhak Perlman who succeeded despite his disabilities.
In the middle grade grouping for ages 9 to 13, “Show Me a Sign” won for its story about a young girl who’s deaf who feels comfortable in her community where many others are also deaf until a scientist starts looking into why. Honor books in this category include “Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!” — about a girl with autism who wants to be on a baseball team and has a Major League pitcher as a pen pal — and “When Stars are Scattered” which features a pair of brothers — one of whom is nonverbal — growing up in a refugee camp.
The award in the teen category was given to “This is My Brain in Love,” a story of a high school romance that tackles mental illness, race and other issues.
Winners of the Schneider Family Book Awards, which were announced during the American Library Association’s virtual ALA Midwinter Meeting, will receive $5,000 and a framed plaque.