Seven years ago I became a media specialist at Walker Middle School in Orlando, Florida, and immediately faced a problem. The media specialist before me had done a wonderful job of selling teachers on the Newbery Award books, and very soon after school started, I had several teachers wanting to use them for student projects. There simply were not enough copies for that many classes to use effectively. I negotiated delays with several of the teachers, convinced them all to include the Newbery Honor books among the possible project titles, ordered more copies, and made a mental note to find alternatives that the teachers would accept for future projects. All in all, it was a frustrating first week on the job.
I hate to admit it, but that experience was repeated more than once! It did, however, start me on a journey. My quest for alternatives eventually led me to the Coretta Scott King Award books, which I delightfully discovered have a great deal to offer. It is embarrassing to admit this, but during my course work in preparation for becoming a media specialist, the Coretta Scott King Award titles were not discussed, so when I discovered these books, I really did not realize just what I had stumbled upon. Likewise, the teachers at my school had not heard of the Coretta Scott King Award either. It was not easy to convince them that these books were indeed worthy of study. I was persistent, each year gaining acceptance of one or two titles with different teachers. I also learned about the award itself and previous winners. I decided to set up a special collection of the winning books pulling existing copies off the shelves and adding new ones each year.
Finally, it occurred to me that the teachers at my school and I were probably not the only ones who did not know much about the Coretta Scott King Award. Knowing how much students enjoy the books, I realized that it was time to spread the word about these interesting titles. The result is in your hands. I have spent the past years tracking down and reading the award-winning books, researching the award in more detail, writing to publishers and authors, and dreaming of enhancing the profile of this prestigious award. After all the time spent, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of this task. The Coretta Scott King titles represent a wide variety of literary genres at varying reading and interest levels. They not only deserve to be considered by teachers for student projects but should also be incorporated into the curriculum as a teaching tool. The possibilities are endless and exciting. It is my hope that this book will inspire teachers and media staff to seek out these books and examine them for their possibilities. As with any special collection, you will find that different titles fit better with different needs, classes, and activities. Only by becoming familiar with the Coretta Scott King collection will we know when to recommend a specific title. Experience tells me that getting your foot in the door with that single recommendation will lead to more opportunities for promotion of the award books.
To help teachers and media staff become acquainted with the award and its applications, I have divided this book into two parts. The first part provides a brief history of the award followed by a listing of all the winning and honor books in both the author and illustrator categories. Annotated bibliographies are provided as a means of assisting in selection of titles and providing background information for teachers, students, and media staff. A section of brief author and illustrator biographies is also included in Part 1. The second half suggests possible curriculum . . .