Make Books, Not War: The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award

jacba_booksealThe Jane Addams Children’s Book Award is awarded to books that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence. Founded in 1953, the award is funded by the Peace Education Project, a part of the Jane Addams Peace Association and names two awards each year, one for Older Readers and one for Younger Readers. Honor books can also be named in each category.

Jane Addams was one of the country’s first social workers, founding Hull House in 1889. A lifelong pacifist, she was also the founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, the first American woman to do so. The award honors her memory and her life’s work by celebrating books that promote peace and equality.

Subjects of winning books vary widely across the years, from nonfiction about the civil rights movement to fiction set in contemporary Sudan, from picture books about Wangari Maathai to stories of Japanese internment camps. Nonviolent solutions to problems, and the celebration of the fact that we all deserve basic human rights regardless of race, gender, or other “differences” are the common threads that bind all of these works together.

Brave girlThis year’s winner in the category of Younger Reader:  Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, published by Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins. Brave Girl celebrates the accomplishments of Clara Lemlich, a young immigrant who helped to lead a general strike against outrageous working conditions in the garment industry at the turn of the century. Two Honor books were named: We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton and published by Jump at the Sun, an imprint of Disney-Hyperion and Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education written by Elizabeth Suneby and illustrated by Suana Verelst and published by Kids Can Press.

SugarThe 2014 winner for Older Readers is Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes, published by Little, Brown and Company. Sugar is the name of the book, the name of the crop that dominates plantation life, and the name of the spirited young girl who tells us the story of forbidden friendship, racial tension, and the introduction of Chinese workers onto a Reconstruction-era plantation. Two Honor books were named: Seeing Red by Katheryn Erskine and published by Scholastic Pressand Brotherhood by Anne Westrick and published by Viking.

More information about the books and the Jane Addams Book Award, including an annotated list of past winners, and a database searchable by social theme, cultural identity, historical era and other criteria can be found at


Our guest blogger today is Ann Carpenter. Ann is the Youth Services Librarian at the Brooks Free Library in Harwich, MA. She is co-Chair of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Committee.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at

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