EJK Award — FAQ

1. What is the goal of the EJK Award?

The EJK New Writer Award was established in 1985 to encourage and celebrate up-and-coming authors of picture books written in the tradition of Keats­—that is, with original, well-told stories that reflect the universal qualities of childhood and the multicultural nature of our world. The goal is to help writers continue to create outstanding picture books for a diverse audience. The New Illustrator Award was added in 2001 to reward originality of artistic expression as well.

2. Who qualifies as a ‟new” writer or illustrator?

 A person who has had no more than three books published.

3. How are books submitted for consideration?

Publishers submit books to each member of the Award Committee that must meet the Guidelines and Criteria for the Ezra Jack Keats Award.  The deadline for submission is December 31.

4. How are the winners selected?

After the Award Committee members receive copies of all the books under consideration, they submit their top 10 choices with explanations to the Committee Chair. The Committee meets in February to make their selections from that list.

5. When and where are the winners announced?

The winners are announced at the EJK Award ceremony in April, during the Children’s Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. They are notified immediately after selection, so that they and their publishers can make arrangements to travel to the  ceremony. The winners must be present to receive the award and a $3,000 honorarium.

6. Why was the ceremony moved from New York City to Hattiesburg, Mississippi?

Hattiesburg is home to the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection of the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). Besides being one of the foremost collections and research centers in the field of children’s literature, the de Grummond is the steward of the Keats Archive. Because the Archive is so important to the Foundation, we are pleased to have the award administered by the de Grummond.

7. Who are the past winners of the Award?

A complete list of the award winners, with descriptions of their books and links to other works, is available on the EJK Award Winners page. Click on the printable list to download a poster of the winning books for display in your classroom, library and bookstore.

8. What makes the EJK Award different from other children’s book awards?

This award celebrates gifted writers and illustrators at the beginning of their career. By identifying and rewarding their artistry and sensitivity early on, we hope to encourage them to continue their outstanding work. We hope, in turn, to encourage publishers to offer original, top-quality books that, like Ezra’s, reflect the diverse faces of children.

9. Is the EJK Award the same prize as the UNICEF/Ezra Jack Keats Award?

No. The biennial International Award for Excellence in Children’s Book Illustration was founded in 1984 by the EJK Foundation along with UNICEF and the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY). The program was discontinued in 1994 (the last awards were given in 1992).