Skip to content

Children’s Book Committee – April Pick

April 20, 2015


The Children’s Book Committee celebrates National Poetry Month with the winner of the 2015 Claudia Lewis Award for Younger Readers. You may view the award ceremony online, including Jacqueline’s remarks delivered by her editor Nancy Paulsen.


Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
(Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin)
Through a series of poems, the author Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of growing up in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York during the turbulent Civil Rights era, and of becoming a writer. (10-14)

Our Young Reviewer says:

I found this book beautiful. I loved the way that one character connects the Midwest, the South, and the Northeast so smoothly. Jacqueline–both the author and the narrator–explains the differences in living in each place in the U.S. I absolutely fell in love with Jacqueline’s family. I was moved by her mother’s determination, her grandmother’s quiet strength, her brother’s singing, and her littlest brother’s innocence. However, her relationship with her grandfather is enough to recommend the book.
– Julie, 15, Highland Park, New Jersey

Want to become a Young Reviewer?
See our past monthly picks.

The 2015 Children’s Book Committee Awards

April 16, 2015

Rocco Staino of KidLit TV interviews Susan Kuklin, winner of the 2015 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.

Susan Kuklin

and Ann M. Martin for her book Rain Reign, winner of the 2015 Josette Frank Award for Younger Readers.

Ann M. Martin

In addition to seeing these interviews, you may view the entire ceremony with all of the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee Children’s Book Awards, with acceptance speeches and remarks from all of the winners.

Congratulations to these wonderfully talented book creators!

Many thanks to Julie Gribble and KidLit TV for the wonderful video coverage!

Kwame Alexander: Poetry and the Common Humanity

April 10, 2015

by Rachel Reda

As a child, Kwame Alexander might have been the only young boy to get excited when his father told him to clean out the garage. For Kwame, the garage was a world of discovery. This particular space in their Virginia home was cluttered with milk crates stacked high, containing books of all sorts. They ranged from first editions of poetry to books on precolonial black Africa to books on methodology. The garage was his library, and his parents, both writers and educators, were his librarians.

Kwame Alexander
Kwame Alexander

Now a published author, poet and playwright, Kwame has written 18 books, two of which were NAACP Image Award Nominees. He received the 2015 Newbery Medal for The Crossover, a powerful novel written entirely in verse that follows a 12-year-old boy, his twin brother and their love for basketball. The narrative paints an authentic portrait of a close-knit family.

Kwame has a passion for poetry and a commitment to exposing young people to cultures and experiences beyond their own. His values support Bank Street’s mission of achieving social justice through education, which is why the College named Kwame its inaugural Dorothy A. Carter Writer-in-Residence. He will spend six weeks working with nine- and 10-year-olds in the School for Children on their poetry.

On April 6, Kwame joined his father, Bank Street alumnus Dr. E. Curtis Alexander, in an event titled Doing the Write Thing, 1969-2015: A Literary Legacy Conversation. In the discussion, moderated by author and historian Leonard S. Marcus, Kwame and his father reflected on their past experiences and expressed their ideals while demonstrating a close-knit relationship.

Jennifer Brown, Director of the Center for Children’s Literature, and Allie Bruce, Bank Street’s children’s librarian, knew they had found Bank Street’s Writer-in-Residence after a panel discussion that Bruce moderated at the School Library Journal Day of Dialog last May. Kwame, who participated in the panel, struck a chord in Brown when he said, “We all love, smile, cry. If we can get past the labels, we can become more diverse people, as opposed to trying to find diverse books.”

Introduced to poetry at an early age, Kwame listened as his mother read Nikki Giovanni’s Spin a Soft Black Song: Poems for Children. Later, he would take an advanced poetry class with the gifted poet herself, who helped him find his “groove.” Her improvisation method is what will inspire Kwame as he helps Bank Street students take a creative leap.

“You didn’t know what was going to happen each day in class,” said Kwame at one point during the conversation with his father. “That’s how I was taught. But you were going to take that risk. You were going to have a clearer understanding of how to make words dance on a page.”

Kwame recalled finding two items in his attic: his father’s jazz records, and a scrapbook containing photos and front-page news features of his father playing basketball. When he sat down to write The Crossover, basketball and jazz became sources of inspiration. They were hooks, and they were metaphors. As the Dorothy A. Carter Writer-in-Residence, Kwame hopes to help Bank Street students translate their own diverse experiences into poetry by adopting their individual “swag,” as he put it.

The Alexanders have a long history with Bank Street. Dr. Alexander, Kwame’s father, graduated from Bank Street Graduate School of Education in 1970 and, serendipitously, studied with Dorothy Carter. “Bank Street taught us about the common humanity,” he said. “All children are learners.” He encouraged his son, when working with School for Children students, to “let them flow, let them soar. It doesn’t have to conform to your lesson plan.”

“Writing is more than pen and paper,” said Kwame. “This is the part of the writing life that I love. It’s about being able to live this authentic life, to have something to write about.”

Pictured, left to right: Bank Street President Shael Polakow-Suransky, Writer-in-Residence Kwame Alexander, moderator Leonard Marcus, and Dr. E. Curtis Alexander.

Bank Street College has established an endowment for the Dorothy A. Carter Writer-in-Residency to make this an annual event. If you would like to make a gift, please do so here.

Did you miss the conversation? You may view it here.

Reprinted from Bank Street News.


The Building Blocks of Play – Schedule of the Day

March 25, 2015

The Building Blocks of PlaySaturday, April 11, 2015

“The Building Blocks of Play: Art, Books and Childhood” — a daylong exploration of the importance of play through a young person’s education and into adulthood.

8:30-9:00AM: Register, get coffee

9:00-9:05AM: Welcome Remarks

9:05-9:35AM: Opening Keynote: Linda Mayes

Linda Mayes is the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology in the Yale Child Study Center, the Interim Director of the Yale Child Study Center, and Special Advisor to the Dean, Yale School of Medicine.

9:35-9:50AM: Linda Mayes and Robie Harris: “Placing Play First while Working on a Manuscript

9:50-10:50AM: “The Role of Play in Books for Early Childhood

Panel: Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Nina Crews, Paul O. Zelinsky

Moderator: Nancy Nager, professor of education and child development, Bank Street College Graduate School of Education

11:00AM-12:00PM: A Pop-Up Workshop 

Led by Becca Zerkin, member of the Matt Reinhart Pop-Up Studio and the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee

12:00-1:00PM: Pick up Boxed Lunch from the Cafeteria / Autographing in the Lobby

1:00-1:30PMPeter H. Reynolds on the Role of Technology in Play

1:30-2:15PM: Music and the Art of Playing

Led by Betsy Blachly, head teacher, the Bank Street School for Children

2:15-2:45PM Closing Keynote: Richard Lewis, “Beginning and Becoming: Thoughts on the Growing Nature of our Imagining

2:45-3:15PM Autographing in the lobby

Tickets: $75

Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2015 Edition

March 19, 2015

ChildrensBookCommitteeCover2015The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2015 Edition includes more than 600 titles chosen by the Children’s Book Committee as the best of the best published in 2014. In choosing books for the annual list, reviewers consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes. Nonfiction titles are further evaluated for accuracy and clarity. Each book accepted for the list is read and reviewed by at least two committee members and then discussed by the committee as a whole.

Under Five | Five to Nine | Nine to Twelve | Twelve to Fourteen | Fourteen and Up

We are very pleased to announce The Best Children’s Books of the Year is back in print! Purchase a print copy of the 2015 Edition for your collection for $10.00 (plus $3.00 shipping). Please contact to place your order.



Announcing the Inaugural Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence – Kwame Alexander!

March 17, 2015

The_Crossover_book_coverKwame Alexander, winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal for The Crossover, will be the Inaugural Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence

Next month, Kwame will begin working with the 9s/10s on their poetry for six weeks, from early April through mid-May. Bank Street College is establishing an endowment to continue this residency in the name of Dorothy Carter, a children’s book author, a Broadway actress, the first African-American member of the Bank Street College graduate faculty, and a leader of the Bank Street Writers Lab. We lost Dr. Carter in 2012, but her legacy will live on through the Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence program.

It is fortuitous that Kwame Alexander will inaugurate this program–not only because he is the winner of the 2015 Newbery Medal, but also because his father, who graduated from Bank Street College Graduate School of Education in 1970, worked directly with Dorothy Carter in the Harlem Institute for Teachers.

The Bank Street Community is thrilled that he will be sharing his gifts with our students and teachers in the School for Children, the Graduate Faculty, and the New York City community at large. Kwame will be kicking off his Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residency with an evening event together with his father, Dr. E. Curtis Alexander.

Join us here at Bank Street on Monday, April 6, 2015 from 6:30-7:30PM for Doing the Write Thing, 1969-2015: A Literary Legacy Conversation Between Kwame Alexander, 2015 Newbery Medalist, and his father, Dr. E. Curtis Alexander (GS ’70), moderated by Leonard S. Marcus, historian and author of Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon.



Children’s Book Committee – March Pick

March 13, 2015



The Fourteenth Goldfish
by Jennifer L. Holm
Random House Books for Young Readers

When a strange boy shows up at her house and turns out to be her grandfather, eleven-year-old Ellie’s life changes and her interest in science grows. Cheerful black-and-white illustrations of goldfish. (9-12)

Young Reviewer:
This book is a cliffhanger. It was realistic fiction except for the science fiction twist about Ellie’s grandfather. I think it’s cool to see the grandfather as a teenager still with the intelligence of an older person. But Ellie shows real wisdom in the end and learns new things about herself.
– Dante, 10, East Hampton, New York

Want to become a Young Reviewer?
See our past monthly picks.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 478 other followers

%d bloggers like this: