Children's Book Committee Announces Awards, Best Books of 2022; Susan Kusel Receives ALA Equity Award; and More | News Bites

The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education announced the winners of the Josette Frank Award, the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, and the Claudia Lewis Award; ALA honors Jewish librarian Susan Kusel with Equity Award; NCAC opens submissions for its young filmmaker contest; and more in this edition of News Bites.

The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education announced the winners of the Josette Frank Award, the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, and the Claudia Lewis Award; ALA honors Jewish librarian Susan Kusel with its Equity Award; NCAC opens submissions for its annual young filmmaker contest; and more in this edition of News Bites.

CBC Announces Three Awards, Releases 2023 Edition of Best Children's Books of the Year

The Children’s Book Committee (CBC) at Bank Street College of Education announced the winners of the Josette Frank Award, the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, and the Claudia Lewis Award.

The Josette Frank Award, which honors a fiction book of “outstanding literary merit in which children or young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally,” went to I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys.

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy and illustrated by Janelle Washington, won the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, which is given to “a distinguished work of nonfiction that serves as an inspiration to young people.”

The Claudia Lewis Award for the best poetry book for young readers was awarded to Augusta Savage: The Shape of a Sculptor’s Life by Marilyn Nelson.

The CBC also released its 2023 edition of The Best Children Books of the Year (books published in 2022). This year’s edition contains more than 600 annotated titles divided into age ranges and categories. Published every year for more than a century, the list is designed to guide parents, teachers, and librarians in choosing the highest quality literature for children. The committee is made up of educators, librarians, authors, illustrators, psychologists, and parents; and many books are read and reviewed by young children ages 2 -18 from across the country. For the print edition, email

In addition, the Committee announced its new online searchable database for CBC-recommended books from the year 2000 to the present. The tool is designed to help users access developmentally appropriate and engaging books for young children ages birth through 18.

Kusel Receives Equity Award

Susan Kusel was named winner of the 2023 American Library Association (ALA) Equality Award. 

“Susan tirelessly educates fellow librarians, adjacent professionals such as publishers and teachers, and the general public about Judaic literature, Jewish equity concerns, and the dangers of antisemitism. She has initiated multiple projects to ensure quality in Jewish children’s literature and to promote these titles as ‘window books’ to help build bridges between the Jewish community and the wider world,” ALA said in its announcement of the winner.

Kusel, who has been a synagogue library director, a buyer for a bookstore, the owner of a consulting business, and an author, is being recognized for her energetic advocacy for the minority concerns of Judaic librarianship, the Jewish patron community, and the ongoing struggle to have Jewish concerns included in diversity justice efforts.

Two Fountas & Pinnell Classroom Second Editions Forthcoming 

Heinemann announced the second edition of Fountas & Pinnell Classroom: Fountas & Pinnell Classroom Shared Reading K-3, which will be available in August, and Fountas & Pinnell Classroom Guided Reading K-3, coming in the fall. The second edition adds additional embedded phonics practice, new instructional routines for increased ease of use, and new digital tools to enhance teaching and learning, according to Heinemann.

The second edition will include additional phonics practice and intensify the foundational literacy skills taught, including phonemic awareness, comprehension, vocabulary, language skills, and fluency, while providing students with authentic experiences with engaging fiction and nonfiction texts when learning to read, according to the press release.

NCAC Announces 2023 Young Filmmakers Contest

Every year, the National Coalition Against Censorship’s Youth Free Expression Program invites young filmmakers to create a short film on a contemporary First Amendment issue. This year, the topic for the Youth Free Expression Film Contest is: Speaking with People Whose Ideas You Hate.

According to the announcement, “People often want to silence ideas that they find harmful or offensive, but in a democratic society, free speech includes listening to ideas we dislike. Democracy is built on accepting and engaging with a diversity of viewpoints. Although it may make us uncomfortable to hear ideas we disagree with, it is essential to defend and protect the freedom of expression. Young people are confronted daily with views they disagree with, from censorship in schools to online hate speech—That’s why we’re asking young people to make a video exploring speaking with people whose ideas you hate.”

Filmmakers age 19 and younger are asked to create a video of up to three minutes, using film, animation, photographs, music, or any other idea they might have to explore what free speech means to you as a student, a citizen, and a human.

The deadline for submissions is September 8, 2023. Entries will be judged based on relevant content, artistic and technical merit, and creativity. The top three filmmakers (individual or team) will receive a cash prize of $1,000, $500, or $250. A first-place winner will be announced in October and receive a scholarship to the New York Film Academy. This year’s winning entry will also be screened in New York City during the NCAC Awards Benefit on November 13.

Sora Sweet Reads Summer Program Launches for 2023

The Sora Sweet Reads summer reading program has begun. The free program is available 24/7 from May 15 to August 28 in the Sora student reading app. In its tenth year, Sora Sweet Reads is designed to help educators and students overcome the “summer slide” with 57 specially selected juvenile and young adult ebooks and audiobooks, plus hundreds of other popular and educational titles already in each school’s collection. Nearly 59,000 schools from around the globe are participating in 2023.

Callisto Media Sold

The publishing assets of nonfiction publisher Callisto Media have been sold in a Sourcebooks-led, Penguin Random House-funded acquisition. Sourcebooks will oversee the management of Callisto’s publishing assets, while Callisto’s titles will continue to be distributed by Simon & Schuster Distribution Services.

Callisto’s nonfiction publishing list includes workbooks, cooking, health & wellness, relationships & personal growth.

Stone Soup Marks 50th Anniversary

Stone Soup, the nonprofit literary magazine written and illustrated by kids since 1973, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Still publishing a bimonthly print magazine of poetry, fiction, memoir, and artwork by kids, Stone Soup also runs an annual book contest and has a catalog of novels and poetry collections by young writers.

In addition, the organization publishes work by young refugees in the magazine and on the Refugee Project page on its website.

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