Ezra Jack Keats Award Timeline

Martin Pope
Lillie Pope
Deborah Pope


The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats first book he both wrote and illustrated, is published by Penguin Viking. 


The Snowy Day wins the Caldecott Medal. Read Ezra’s speech here.

1962 – 1983

Ezra writes and or illustrates more than twenty books. 


Ezra and best friend Martin Pope establish the Ezra Jack Keats (EJK) Foundation through which Ezra supports causes and institutions close to his heart.


Goggles! is recognized with a Caldecott Honor. Here is a link to all Ezra’s Awards.


Ezra wins and is presented with the USM Medallion from the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg. A strong bond with USM is established. 


Ezra dies at the age of 67. His will stipulates that the royalties from all of his books be used by his foundation to “do good” in the world. 


Martin and Lillie Pope solidify the mission of the EJK Foundation: To support arts and literacy programs for children in public schools and libraries across the country, and to promote the creation of children’s books that, in the spirit of Keats, reflect the diverse population of our country. 


Aubrey Lucas, President of the University of Mississippi, purchases the Keats Archive, with the understanding that Ezra’s original artwork will not be divided and will be ready for exhibition when requested. 


The first Ezra Jack Keats Book Award ceremony is held in a branch of the New York Public Library. The award is given to Valerie Flournoy for The Patchwork Quilt. 


The Ezra Jack Keats Award for new illustrator is created and goes to Bryan Collier for Uptown.


For the first time, the writer and illustrator of one book, Freedom Summer, receive both awards, Deborah Wiles, writer; Jerome Lagarrigue, illustrator. 


Deborah Pope assumes the position of Executive Director of the EJK Foundation. Martin and Lillie remain President and Vice President of the Board of Directors.


For the second time, the writer and illustrator of one book, Ruby’s Wish, receive both awards, Shirin Yim Bridges, writer and Sophie Blackall, illustrator. One book has not been so honored since.


Eric Carle Honor – Angel category, given to Martin and Lillie Pope for the EJK Foundation’s contribution to the field of children’s literature.

2011 – 2014

The Jewish Museum in New York City mounts the first major exhibition of Ezra’s original book artwork. This exhibition tours for three years and is seen across the country. 


EJK Award moves to de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at USM in Hattiesburg. Now presented at the annual Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, the EJK Award goes to Meg Medina, Writer for Tia Isa Wants a Car; and Jenny Sue Kosteki Shaw, Illustrator for Same, Same, But Different.


The EJK Foundation and the de Grummond create an Ezra Jack Keats Award Honor category. 


The EJK Foundation and Penguin Random House celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the publishing of The Snowy Day.


Dr. Rodney Bennett becomes President of the University of Mississippi, the first African American president of a public university in Mississippi.


100 Days of Ezra, Celebration of Ezra’s Centenary. The statue of Peter and Willie, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, is declared an Honorary Literary Landmark.


The United States Postal Service creates and inaugurates a series of four stamps honoring The Snowy Day.


The EJK Book Award cash prize is increased to $3,000. The writing award goes to Jeri Watts for A Piece of Home The Illustrator Award goes to Micha Archer for Daniel Finds a Poem.


New York Public Library (NYPL) announces The Snowy Day as the most circulated book in its 125 year history. NYPL issues a special commemorative library card and the NYC/MTA issues a metrocard to honor the book.


The 35th Anniversary campaign and celebration of the Ezra Jack Keats Award!