Awards & Scholarships

44th Arbuthnot Honor Lecture: An Honorable History

May Hill Arbuthnot 1971If you know the Dick and Jane, then you have already encountered May Hill Arbuthnot, who co-authored these iconic readers.

The 44th Arbuthnot Honor Lecture will be delivered on Thursday, May 16, 2013 by Michael Morpurgo. The selected hosts for the event are Nazareth College and the Youth Services Section of the New York Library Association in Rochester, New York. The honor lectureship will be tied to several other significant events for librarians and readers of children’s and young adult literature during Children’s Book Week and will kick off the 38th annual NYLA Youth Services Section’s Spring Conference. Much detailed information about the event, including ticket ordering can be found here.

The May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award was established in 1969 by the Association for Library Service to Children with Arbuthnot providing the inaugural lecture. As a tribute to this esteemed author, editor, critic, anthologist and educator, the lecture brings together individuals from the world of children’s literature with members of the general public who share an interest in children, books and reading.

Arbuthnot was thrilled at the prospect of this award providing a forum for “new voices speaking with new insight and new emphasis in the field of children’s lectures” and talked of the importance of the “spoken word,” because of her many years spent “…bringing children and books together by way of spoken word”. (Quotes from The Arbuthnot Lectures, 1970-79, ALA/ALSC, 1980.)

Indeed, this lecture has long served each spring as an annual touchstone event in children’s literature where an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children’s literature, of any country, prepares and delivers a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature.
Some of the past lecturers have included Maurice Sendak, Kevin Henkes, Virginia Hamilton, K.T. Horning, David Macaulay, Susan Cooper, Russell Freedman, Zena Sutherland, Richard Jackson, Ashley Bryan, Jean Fritz, Lillian Gerhardt and Walter Dean Myers. The host sites for these events have been just as varied as the lecturers selected and papers delivered with locations in almost thirty different states and the District of Columbia.

The list of past Arbuthnot Lecturers since 1970 includes two that are captured on video with the 2012 by Peter Sis and 2003 by Maurice Sendak.

A heartfelt thank you to the 2013 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Committee including: Chair Susan J. Pine, Forest Hills, N.Y. and members Gratia Banta, Lane Public Library, Hamilton, Ohio; Carolyn Phelan, Northbrook (Ill.) Public Library; Victor Schill, Harris County (Texas) Public Library, Houston; and Rachael Stein, Eastern Shore Regional Library, Salisbury, Md. whose dedicated work provided both the lecturer and the site for this upcoming event.

Though if you can’t attend this year (or even if you can and want to come again!) please watch the ALSC page after the ALA Annual Conference for the announcement of the site of the 45th Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Congratulations to Andrea Davis Pinkney as the 2014 lecturer which was announced in January at the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

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