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Celebrate the 2016 Irma Black Award & Cook Prize!

May 16, 2016

Irma Black Award and Cook Prize Ceremony 5_19_2016

Join us at Bank Street on Thursday, May 19 to celebrate the 2016 Irma Black Award and Cook Prize winners and honor books! We are delighted that KidLitTV will once again be livestreaming the ceremony so classrooms near and far can join in the fun!

Scott Magoon, illustrator of the 2013 Irma Black Award winner Big Mean Mike, is this year’s keynote speaker. Mara Rockcliff, Laurie Wallmark, Lisa Schnell, and Anne Vittur Kennedy will all be on hand to celebrate. We are looking forward to a fantastic morning!

Register here to join us in person or watch the fun live at KidLitTV beginning at 9:30am.

For more on this year’s awards, check out ‘Jon Agee and Mara Rockcliff Win Prestigious Bank Street Awards‘ in School Library Journal.

Congratulations to this year’s winners and honor books and many thanks to School Library Journal and KidLitTV for their continued support:)


Children’s Book Committee – May Pick

May 10, 2016


Salt to the Sea
by Ruta Sepetys
(Philomel Books, 2016)

Winter 1945, four teenagers struggle to survive before the Soviets conquer Germany. They board a ship that promises safety, but leads to tragedy. Maps and author’s note included.

Our Young Reviewer says:

Salt to the Sea avoids many of the pitfalls of a stereotypical adventure novel while retaining the elements that make young adult novels engrossing (e.g. action, suspense, and moral and ethical challenges) and while containing interesting historical information. …As the plot progresses, Sepetys avoids many tropes of the young adult genre. For example, only one romance emerges, and it feels authentic. And characters die. Of the nine main and minor characters, only four survive the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. This facet of the book is important not only because it sets the book apart from more simplistic young adult novels, but also because it reinforces the main theme that, as General Tecumseh Sherman said after the Civil War, “war is Hell!”

– Foster, 16, Anchorage, AK

See our past monthly picks.

Adam Gidwitz visits the School for Children as the Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence

May 3, 2016

by Rachel Reda and Cindy Weill

Adam Gidwitz, author of A Tale Dark and Grimm (Penguin) and other novels, was this year’s Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence at Bank Street School for Children.

From April 6 -14, Adam, a Bank Street alumnus (GS ’08), worked intensively with 9/10s students on their novel writing. Adam guided students in writing, sketching and revising their own stories, encouraging them to pay special attention to sensory details, building suspense and “making the reader care.”




The work culminated in an event in which students presented snippets of their polished stories before a standing-room-only audience of School for Children parents, faculty and staff.

“These kids were some of the most eager, energetic, earnest writers,” Adam said. “ They were so enthusiastic to get back to their writing. Parents concurred with comments and added, “Our son was hooked by Adam Gidwitz from day 1 of his classroom visits and told us about his enthusiasm.  What an amazing transformation he produced in (our son’s) writing this week — more descriptive and engaging than anything he has ever written.  Adam has the gift of inspiration and motivation.”

Adam is the second Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence, which honors the life and legacy of Dr. Dorothy Carter, children’s book author, Broadway actress and the first African-American member of the Bank Street College graduate faculty. Cindy Weill, Director of the Center for Children’s Literature said, “I knew Dorothy Carter when she was the Chairwoman of the Bank Street Writers Lab,” a Bank Street workshop for professional authors. “She would have enjoyed watching Adam nurture the writer in every child.”



“Adam has demonstrated how to be a passionate, engaged and excited teacher,” said Greg David, 9/10s teacher in the School for Children. “We try to do that every day, but Adam did it in a fresh way that was really inspiring.”

Coincidentally, Adam and 9/10s teacher, Becky Eisenberg have known each other since they were both students at a progressive high school in Baltimore.



Join us for BookFest @ Bank Street 2016!

April 25, 2016

Pam-Munoz-RyanWe are very pleased to announce that BookFest @ Bank Street will take place on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 and our keynote speaker this year will be Newbery Honoree and Pura Belpré Award winner Pam Muñoz Ryan!

Also joining us will be Megan Dowd Lambert and Hervé Tullet.

So mark your calendars and join us on October 22nd. Many more details on the day and registration info to come.

Who Are You to Say? Children’s Literature and the Censorship Conversation

April 20, 2016

Bank Street College of Education’s April 16th conference, “Who Are You to Say? Children’s Literature and the Censorship Conversation,” hosted some of the most thoughtful minds in children’s literature. The discussions were fascinating and intellectually stimulating with wonderful audience input. This event is one that students and academicians will be referencing for years to come!

Director of the Center for Children’s Literature and conference organizer, Cynthia Weill, opened with a few remarks.


Children’s book scholar Leonard Marcus gave a brief introduction to the “Historic Roots of Censorship in the United States.”


The first panel, “Developing Challenged Children’s Books: Authors and Their Editors,” was also moderated by Leonard Marcus. He lead authors Robie Harris, It’s Perfectly Normal, Susan Kuklin, Beyond Magenta and their editor from Candlewick, Hilary Van Dusen, along with Pete Parnell and Justin Richardson, authors of And Tango Makes Three and their editor, David Gale of Simon and Schuster in a fascinating discussion on creating books around controversial topics.


Pulitzer Prize winner, David Shipler, The Working Poor: Invisible in America (Vintage Press) led a second panel “Why Are Young Adult Books Challenged?” Panelists emily m. danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Harper Collins), Shelley Diaz, Young Adult Reviewer at School Library Journal, Coe Booth, Tyrell (Scholastic), and Meg Medina, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick) talked about their personal experiences of being challenged and banned.


The third panel, “Context and Controversy: Banned, Censored and Contested Books for Young People Today,” was led by author Elizabeth Levy. Panelists included: Allie Jane Bruce, Children’s Librarian, Bank Street College of Education; Fatima Shaik, Children’s/Young Adult Books Committee, PEN American Center; Andy Laties, Manager, Bank Street Book Store; Kiera Parrot, Reviews Director, School Library Journal; and Cheryl Willis Hudson, Editorial Director, Just Us Books, Inc. Each participant offered their differing opinions on recently challenged books.

DSC_0098 copy

Joan Bertin, Director of National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), gave a brilliant closing keynote speech on children’s book censorship.


At the end of the day, authors signed books and authors, panelists, and participants mingled for more conversation.

Don’t forget to join us for BookFest on Saturday, October 22, 2016!

-Cindy Weill

Photo courtesy Rebecca Migdal

Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely talk with Bank Street 7th Graders about “All American Boys”

April 13, 2016

On April 12, authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely talked with Bank Street School for Children 12/13s about All American Boys, which they co-wrote.

Each told a personal story about interacting with the police as a teenager.  Reynolds was a passenger in a car which was pulled over by police for running a yellow light, which is not illegal.  Police drew guns, forced him and his friends out of the car, emptied their backpacks and searched every part of the car.  After finding nothing illegal in the car, the police said “you can go now” and left them to clean up the mess.  All this happened in his own neighborhood.

“The barrel of a gun is tiny, until it’s in your face” said Reynolds.

Kiely’s story presented a stark contrast: He was driving 30 miles over the speed limit when a police car signaled him to stop.  Panicking, he kept going until he found a parking lot, in which he stopped, taking the time to pull into a parking spot.  When questioned by the police officer, Kiely “went into a sob story,” after which the police officer let him off with a warning.

“I broke the law twice: Speeding and reckless driving,” said Kiely.  “The officer told me and my white friends, ‘Go home and be safe.'”

Bank Street students leaped at the chance to ask questions and have a conversation, asking why the book ended as it did and whether the two had any conflicts while writing the story.

“We decided early on there was never going to be some sort of kumbaya moment in the book,” said Reynolds.  “That would not be honest.”

“It was a gift and a privilege for me, as a white person, to work on this book,” said Kiely.  “I don’t take that lightly.”

All American Boys won Bank Street’s 2016 Mock Printz award and also received the inaugural Walter Dean Myers Award from We Need Diverse Books as well as a Coretta Scott King Honor.

Children’s Book Committee – April Pick

April 1, 2016


You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?!
by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Barry Blitt
(Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015)

How did a “goofball” mediocre baseball player become possibly the greatest manager in baseball history? Playful watercolors. (7-9)

Our Young Reviewer says:

This book is great for baseball fans or for those who enjoy a fun biography. It reads almost like a tall tale, but it’s true. It’s funny, but has a message about working hard and believing in yourself. Casey sticks to his guns and is ultimately successful. He can laugh at himself and gets the last laugh too.

– Dante, 12, Amagansett, NY

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


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