Welcome to the Center for Children’s Books!
The Center for Children’s Books at the School of Information Sciences is a research center with additional interests in education and service.
Our mission is to facilitate the creation and dissemination of exemplary and progressive research and scholarship related to youth-focused resources, literature, and librarianship.
The 2019 Gryphon Award Winner and Honor Books
The Gryphon Award, which includes a $1,000 prize, is given annually by the Center for Children’s Books. The prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding English language work of fiction or non-fiction for which the primary audience is children in kindergarten through fourth grade, and which best exemplifies those qualities that successfully bridge the gap in difficulty between books for reading aloud to children and books for practiced readers. With a core of regular committee members, the award has become a way to contribute to an ongoing conversation about literature for inexperienced readers and to draw attention to the literature that offers, in many different ways, originality, accessibility, and high quality for that audience.
2019 Gryphon Award Winner
“By making a few tweaks to familiar formats, Selznick and Serlin have created something new and irresistible,” said Deborah Stevenson. “ Playful pages with huge print are paced for maximum momentum as the titular detective solves five different goofy mysteries, stopping along the way to have a snack and put on his pants. It’s a title that will segue neatly from readaloud to readalone and invite savvy older sibs to share reading with kids just getting the hang of narrative literacy. Selznick’s soft grayscale pencil art, with significant items picked out in red, maximizes the cuteness factor on Baby Monkey but also throws in sophisticated details (identified in a concluding key) that foreshadow each mystery and add seek-and-find entertainment for readers and their grownups.”
2019 Honor Books
Perkins, Lynne Rae. Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea; written and illus. by Lynne Rae Perkins. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2018. Gr. 2-4
Readers join Alix, her older sister, and their parents on a summer beach vacation for sunny days, yummy sweets, and family time. Perkins (who also illustrates in homey vignettes) writes with confiding intimacy and thoughtful accessibility; although there’s clear story arc, the chapters are each satisfying adventures in their own right, giving readers plenty of breathing space.
In sixteen short entries written in direct address, our narrator chronicles the various disruptions and oddities that occur when a substitute comes to class, from troubles with the student roster to missed library time to changed class rules. Big print, simple vocabulary, and Raschka’s eye-catching watercolors make this an excellent choice for young readers.
See our Gryphon Award Archive page for all past award winners and honor books since the award was first granted in 2004.
The 2019 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction
The Scott O’Dell award, created by Scott O’Dell and Zena Sutherland in 1982 and now administered by Elizabeth Hall, carries with it a prize of $5000, and goes annually to the author of a distinguished work of historical fiction for young people published by a U. S. publisher and set in the Americas.
Cline-Ransome, Lesa. Finding Langston. Holiday House. 2018. Gr. 3-5.
Chicago brings culture shock for eleven-year-old Langston, who moves there from Alabama with his father in 1946 after his mother dies. At school the other Bronzeville neighborhood kids call him “country boy,” and at home the strange city noises keep him up at night. He’s startled but delighted to find that his neighborhood hosts a beautiful library, and that, unlike the libraries back in Alabama that “don’t let in colored folks,” this one is open to all Chicago residents, serves its African-American community, and celebrates writers of color. Langston begins to find a Chicago home in the quiet welcome of that library, and his literary explorations lead him to learn more about his name—and even his family.
Langston’s narration is soft-spoken and understated, and he’s a very realistic preteen, dealing with issues of dislocation, grief, and even bullying to which many readers will relate. The gradual reveal of details about Langston’s mother and her love of poetry makes her a soft presence in the book despite her absence, much as she is in Langston’s own life. Cline-Ransome gives weight to the historical elements—the mid-century Great Migration of African Americans to the North, the legendary George Cleveland Hall branch of the Chicago Public Library, and, of course, the work of poet Langston Hughes—but never shifts focus away from the experience of her young protagonist, “living up North but missing the South and feeling lonely.” That experience of cultural transplantation is keenly described and contemporarily relevant, and it makes Finding Langston a gentle, heartfelt gem.
News & Updates
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books: January’s Big Picture and Starred Reviews.
- The Center for Children’s Books 18th Annual Book Sale
The 18th annual CCB Book Sale is coming up! If you haven’t attended the sale before, get ready for thousands of brand-new books for young people of all ages and interests at a greatly reduced price. Reserve a spot in our exclusive Sunday pre-sale for early access and the best selection. We will accept reservations for the pre-sale starting Monday, January 28th through Monday, February11th. Tickets to the pre-sale are $20. The free-admission book sale will take place in the CCB (iSchool Room 24) from February 18th through February 20th, during which time the CCB’s normal operations will be closed. As always, feel free to contact us at email@example.com for more information.
- Mid-Winter Getaway: Professional Learning for Librarians Serving Youth
Join us for the first annual Mid-Winter Getaway: Professional Learning for Librarians Serving Youth. This low-cost, professional learning opportunity is open to all information professionals serving youth and is hosted by the University of Illinois’ School of Information Sciences Saturday, February 16 – Sunday, February 17, 2019.Based on the popular Summer Getaway experience, Mid-Winter Getaway will feature a Best of The Bulletin – Book Talk & Tasting, combined with a 3-hour interactive, professional learning workshop at the C-U Community FabLab . Pair your Mid-Winter Getaway with discounted attendance at The Center for Children’s Books Pre-Sale from 1:00 – 4:00 pm on Sunday, February 17.Registration opens Monday, January 28th and is limited to the first 28 registrants. Cost & additional details are accessible via https://publish.illinois.edu/summergetaway/mid-winter-itinerary/.
January 18, 2019 | 4-4:30 pm | Director Dr. Deborah Stevenson will appear on WCIA3’s CiLiving to discuss A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh in celebration of Winnie the Pooh Day
- January 28 – February 11, 2019 | Pre-Sale Reservations will be accepted for the 18th Annual Book Sale
February 17, 2019 | 1:00-4:00 pm | Pre-Sale
February 18 – 20, 2019 | 10:00 am – 6:00 pm | 18th Annual Book Sale
Research Spotlight: App Authors
App Authors: Closing the App Gap II, our three-year national IMLS-funded research project, has designed a curriculum to teach coding to children aged eight to twelve in school and public libraries.
Working with partners in Illinois and across the country, we’ve created two seven-session curriculums to suit all kinds of young learners, which can be viewed here. Through this project, children develop their own apps and share them with others, highlighting their achievements and learning about others’ as well.
If you would like to participate in this exciting grant as a volunteer, please contact the CCB GAs at firstname.lastname@example.org.