About the EJK Award 35th Anniversary

The year-long anniversary campaign, produced by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection will take place from June 2020 through June 2021. During this time, along with our partners, we aim to: 

• Celebrate EJK Award contributions to increase diversity in children’s literature 

• Honor winning authors & illustrators, as well as their publishers, who have produced exceptional and diverse picture books for children 

• Demonstrate the impact of winning the EJK Award on the careers of all recipients 

• Increase the cash prize for winners, as well as create a cash prize for honorees 

Anniversary Activities

  • Conference Panels and Appearances

EJK Award winners and honorees, as well as educators, publishers and others will participate in webinars and remote panels with libraries, trade association conferences and book festivals to discuss diversity of characters and concepts in children’s books as well as the future of the EJK Awards

  • In-Person and Virtual Tool Kits for Libraries, Schools and Bookstores

Designed by elementary, high school and college educators, toolkits will include downloadable tips and lesson plans; posters, bookmarks and other graphic materials; social and traditional media pointers, sample posts and hashtags to organize such programs as:

Mock EJK Award

Read-Aloud Plans (pdf)

Book Discussion Guides

  • Digital and Traditional Media Outreach

National outreach will include extensive social media, e-blasts communications and other vehicles to reach a broad base of interested media and audiences all over the U.S. and Canada

  • Documentary Film to be Released in June of 2021

A film celebration of the history of diversity in children’s literature recognizing the stellar EJK Award winners and honorees and the community of children’s literature professionals and supporters who work to create outstanding diverse books for children

Ezra Jack Keats and The Ezra Jack Keats Award

The Ezra Jack Keats Award has been bestowed upon early-career children’s picture book authors and illustrators since its inception in 1986. The Award nurtures and honors our country’s multicultural population, boosting the careers of authors and illustrators whose outstanding books reflect our diverse population and in turn the lives of countless children and families.

Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

In addition to the EJK Award, the foundation’s programs include an annual Bookmaking Competition for New York City public school students in grades 3 through 12, and the EJK Mini-Grants awarded annually to public school teachers and librarians across the country. Our programs are informed by Ezra’s values, the importance of public education, the arts and children’s literature. Ezra imagined a better future-our work is helping to make it real.

The EJK Foundation programs are funded completely by the royalties received through the sale of books by Ezra Jack Keats. During the 35th anniversary year, we are accepting donations to increase the cash prizes for future recipients of the EJK Award or EJK Honor. This will further the EJK Foundation mission to encourage early career writers and artists to continue creating wonderful books that reflect the world in which we live.

de Grummond Collection

The de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, the home of the Keats Archive since 1986, is one of North America’s leading research centers for children’s literature. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, and part of Special Collections at the University of Southern Mississippi, the Collection holds original manuscripts and illustrations of more than 1,300 authors and illustrators, as well as 180,000+ published books dating from 1530 to the present. Scholars from around the world visit to study its rich collection.

The Ezra Jack Keats Award (EJK Award) is co-produced by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. Named for Ezra Jack Keats, author of The Snowy Day (1963) and grandfather of diverse children’s literature, Keats wrote & illustrated over 20 classic books featuring a multicultural group of children in his lifetime.

The EJK Award is unique

• It is the only award that celebrates books that embrace all ethnic and racial groups

• The Award and Honor books constitute the kind of diverse library of outstanding children’s books for which we are all working

• Winners and Honorees are themselves more diverse than almost any other group of children’s book award winners

• The EJK jury includes rock star authors, illustrators, scholars and librarians making it an award bestowed by peers, as well as appreciators

How many Awards have been given? 47 EJK Awards and 42 Honors

When are the Awards announced? The first Tuesday of March

When are the Awards presented? Traditionally given in April during the Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, due to COVID-19, the 2020 awards were presented at a virtual ceremony on June 4th, 2020.

The Snowy Day Accolades

In 2016, The Snowy Day was adapted by Amazon into a holiday special earning two Daytime Emmys®, including Outstanding Preschool Children’s Animated Program, two Kidscreen Awards and a BAFTA nomination.

In 2020, The Snowy Day was found to be the #1 most checked out book in the 125 history of the New York Public Library.

The Snowy Day was used as the subject of a set of Forever stamps issued by and still available from the United States Postal Service.

To learn more visit: ezra-jack-keats.org and degrummond.org