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Participate in the Irma Black and Cook Prize Award Selections

January 2, 2019
                                                                                             Keywords: Irma Black Award, Cook Prize



Elementary School Librarians and Teachers, Make Selection of Two Prestigious

 Children’s  Book Awards Part of Your Spring 2019 Curriculum


Want your students to practice their reasoning, persuasive speaking and to sharpen their visual skills while they participate in the selection of Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature’s annual best picture and best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) book?

First and Second grade classes may participate in selection of The Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Irma Black Award). The award goes to an outstanding book for young children – a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole. The Irma Black Award is unusual in that children are the final judges of the winning book.


Follow the links for more information about the Irma Black Award.   Registration



Third and Fourth grade classes are invited to jury the Cook Prize 2018.  The Cook Prize honors the best STEM book of the year published for children eight to ten. It is the only national children’s choice award honoring a STEM title. Follow the links for more information about the Cook Prize. Registration.

Please share this information with your fellow educators and librarians.  Everyone is invited to participate.

Please contact cweill@bankstreet for more information.


Children’s Book Committee – January 2019 Pick

December 21, 2018

We Are All That’s Left
Author: Carrie Arcos


Her mother in a coma after an explosion at a farmer’s market, Zara seeks to uncover her tragic past. Chapters alternate between modern Rhode Island and 1990s Bosnia.

Our Young Reviewer Says:

We are All That’s Left by Carrie Arcos is a very compelling story that portrays a very strong message about the importance of staying strong through hard times, and not assuming things about people. Although the story does start off fairly slowly, it quickly picked up and became very exciting. I especially liked that parts were based in Bosnia when Nadja [the mother] was narrating, as it was the most action-packed part of the book, for you had no idea who could die next. I think the two different settings of the story combine very nicely, since the Bosnian part answers a lot of questions about the US part, and vice versa. I think the amount of violence was right where it should be, too little and the story would feel bland, and too much would result in it being very gore-y. All in all, I think this story is great for Junior High students, and it portrays an important message.”

– Ben, 15 years old, Emporia, KS.

Young people who are interested in reviewing are invited to do so as we welcome the individual perspective of our age appropriate readers. If you are interested in being a reviewer, contact

See our past monthly picks.

Notes From the Bank Street Writers Lab

December 20, 2018
                                                                                                            Keyword: Bank Street Writers Lab


The Center for Children’s Literature is delighted to share a list of books authored by members of the Bank Street Writers Lab, published in 2018.  The Lab was created in 1937 by Bank Street founder Lucy Sprague Mitchell.  The Lab is a forum for professional children’s book authors seeking peer feedback on their manuscripts before submission for publication.

It has been a very prolific year for the group.  All are very grateful to other Lab members for their input and advice and to Bank Street for continuing to offer this opportunity for professional growth. Below is the list of book titles.




If You Want to Fall Asleep by Jackie Azuá Kramer (Clavis Publishing)



Native American Landmarks and Festivals:  A Traveler’s Guide to Indigenous United States and Canada by Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Arlene Hirschfelder (Visible Ink Press)


How Are You? ¿Cómo estás? by Angela Dominguez (Henry Holt) and Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña illustrated by Angela Dominguez (Lee & Low)


On Top of the World; Pedro’s Monster; Pedro’s Big Break; The Big Stink (Capstone) by Fran Manushkin.  Eight of Fran’s books from the Pedro series were published in Spanish too!


Katie Blows Her Top; Daddy Can’t Dance by  Fran Manushkin (Capstone)



Rodent Rascals written and illustrated by Roxie Munro (Holiday House)



No Peacocks! by Robin Newman (Sky Pony Press)



Pope Francis: Builder of Bridges by Emma Otheguy (Bloomsbury) Also published in Spanish.



Stop That Yawn! (Atheneum) by Caron Levis (Atheneum)



The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep by Caroline Nastro (North South Books)

Announcing the 2019 Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence!

December 19, 2018
                                                 Keywords: Writer in Residence, Emma Otheguy


The Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College is thrilled to announce that Emma Otheguy, Ph.D.  will be our 5th annual Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence!



Emma will work with the 9/10s classrooms on creative writing in April of 2019.  Emma is the author of  Marti’s Song for Freedom: Martí y sus versos por la libertad (Lee & Low 2017)  about Cuban poet and national hero José Martí.  Martí’s Song for Freedom received five starred reviews, from School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Shelf Awareness. Martí received the International Literacy Association’s 2018 Children’s and Young Adult Book Award in Intermediate Nonfiction and was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, and the Bank Street College of Education.

Emma’s other work includes,  Pope Francis: Builder of Bridges (Bloomsbury 2018).  Her middle grade novel Silver Meadows Summer (Alfred A. Knopf) will be published in 2019.

Emma attended Swarthmore College, where she studied children’s literature with Donna Jo Napoli and graduated with Honors. Later, she worked in farm-based education, at a children’s bookstore, and as an elementary-school Spanish teacher.  Emma holds a Ph.D.  in History at New York University, focusing on Spain and colonial Latin America. Emma has held fellowships and grants from the American Historical Association, the Council of Library and Information Resources, and Humanities New York.

The Writer-in-Residence program is named in honor of Dorothy Carter, Bank Street’s first African American faculty member, writer of highly acclaimed children’s books, chair of the Bank Street Writers Lab and Broadway actress. We lost Dorothy in 2012 but continue to celebrate her contributions to children’s literature through the Writer-in-Residence program.


Dr. Dorothy Carter

In 2015 Newbery medalist Kwame Alexander, author of The Crossover inaugurated the program and focused on poetry writing. In 2016 Newbery Honor medalist Adam Gidwitz taught creative writing.  In 2017, Crystal Kite winner, Kat Yeh , On the Way to BEA focused on short story writing. In 2018, Renée Watson, Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winner, author of Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury) taught poetry.


Follow the link for more information about the Writer-in-Residence program.


You can make a donation to the Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence fund here.


Bank Street College Graduate Offers Insights In to Developing Literacy and Creating Children’s Books Globally

November 30, 2018
                                          Keywords: Room to Read, Literacy, International Development


Christabel Pinto (1)


We asked Bank Street Graduate of Education alumna, Christabel Pinto (GSE ’05), Global Literacy Director at Room to Read, a global organization dedicated to literacy and girls’ education, about her experiences helping to create high quality and engaging literature for children in low-income communities around the world.  Here is how she responded to our questions.


(1) Christabel, you have visited schools in low-resourced communities all over the world. What do you see in most classrooms that has inspired you to work in education globally?

Imagine a grade 1 classroom in which there are 100 children or more, not a single children’s book in sight, no materials beyond a chalkboard, and one teacher who may not be trained or supported.  In my experience working with some of the world’s most marginalized children, a version of this scene is a reality that poses steep challenges to the Bank Street way.  When I have observed lessons, I have noticed that these challenges manifest in remarkably consistent ways across the globe: teachers talk (too loudly) and children listen; teachers recite and children repeat (often shouting); teachers write on the board and children copy in their exercise books.  Entire lessons can largely consist of loud choral chanting.  It’s mind-numbingly boring, and I leave a classroom observation with seared eardrums and the knowledge that, despite everyone’s best efforts, very little teaching and learning took place.

(2) How has the international development sector responded to training teachers in low-resourced communities to help children become literate? What do you think of this approach?

The international development sector has developed interventions that are simple and offer the direct instruction of literacy skills, often arming teachers with a script for what they should say or do in a regimented routine that is repeated every lesson. It’s efficient: a teacher without much prior training can implement this intervention within a week or two of training. It’s more effective than the usual chanting: on average, children in a literacy program learn phonics and decoding skills that are crucial to becoming independent readers better than children who do not receive the intervention. But the educator in me asks: what’s missing? In this case, I think taking a simple approach to a complex endeavor leaves children and teachers without an independent or creative voice in the classroom.   Schooling is not a socially neutral act, so I am always critically examining how the design of education interventions reflects what we value for some of the world’s most disadvantaged children and teachers.


Children learning from phonics-based student books developed by Room to Read in Tanzania

(3) Can you talk specifically about Room to Read’s work in establishing libraries in schools?

Most schools we work in do not have school libraries and if they do, they are neglected rooms with piles of dusty, dull books on a shelf. It is no wonder that they remain unused and are perceived as useless.  Or, worse, books are locked away in the principal’s office, preserved from the potentially damaging hands of the very children who could benefit from their use. Room to Read partners with local ministries of education and school communities to establish children’s libraries in government schools, providing children with engaging and age-appropriate books in their local language, a welcoming place to read, and the opportunity to borrow books to take home and read with their families.  In addition, we train educators to conduct reading activities with children, encourage independent reading, and manage the library through book leveling and check out procedures, with the overall mission of unlocking the magic of reading. Training teachers to read aloud to children is no easy feat because teachers we work with have generally never themselves experienced books being read out loud to them!

An existing school “library” (left) and a Room to Read supported children’s library (right) in Indonesia.

(4) Particularly interesting is Room to Read’s focus on creating children’s books in local languages using local authors. Can you talk a little bit about this process?  Why do you believe cultural authenticity/relevance is so important in children’s literature?

At Room to Read, we want children to have both the skills to read and a deep desire to do so.  Many children do not have access to books in their own language and at an appropriate level because these books are not available on the market.  To address this gap, our team trains local authors and illustrators to develop children’s books in countries where children’s book industries often do not even exist.  I think it is important to develop local talent in book creation because it gives people the power to be the creator of their own narratives. It also contributes to nurturing a culture of reading and an industry around it. For children, culturally relevant books could be mirrors for them to see their lives and familiar surroundings validated. That said, we know that children need a variety of books to inspire them, so Room to Read also supports books that serve as windows for children to experience new ideas and expand their world view.  Room to Read’s worldwide publishing program now consists of nearly 1500 fiction and nonfiction children’s books in 35 languages as we continue our journey to ensure that children all over the world have something as simple and as powerful as a good book to read.  (See below for images.)

(5) How did your graduate work at Bank Street, your time as a School for Children teacher as well as other educational experiences prepare you/shape you for what you are doing now?

I consider myself lucky to have received so much supportive mentoring in my early development as a teacher, and two brilliant, caring mentors, in particular, helped me find my own voice as a teacher: Madeleine Ray, my advisor and children’s literature instructor in the graduate school, and Michael Cook, the math-science coordinator for many years at the School for Children.  From these experiences and mentors, I learned the value of taking a developmentally oriented approach that meets the needs of the “whole child”.  The required course, The Study of Children in Diverse & Inclusive Educational Settings Through Observation and Recording (known colloquially as O&R), reinforced my understanding that the curriculum is everything that happens in the classroom and not just the planned course of study. With a lens for observing teaching and learning that has been shaped by Bank Street, I seek opportunities to add depth and breadth to the learning experiences of both children and their teachers in my work now.  I recognize that the Bank Street way is not an appropriate fit for every context, but I also know that the danger to taking an expedient approach to education is that it is not human enough.


KH_Reading under desk

This child in a Room to Read supported classroom in Cambodia cannot tear herself away from a Room to Read published book she is hiding under her desk.


Christabel Pinto is a 2005 graduate of the Bank Street College of Education.  She taught at Bank Street School for Children from 2004 to 2007 and then again from 2010 to 2012.  In 2009, she graduated with a second masters in international educational development from Teachers College, Columbia University.  She worked with Save the Children from 2012 to 2016 as a senior specialist for basic education and literacy and is now the global literacy director at Room to Read.  You can reach Christabel at:  #roomtoread


Below are illustrations from books created by Room to Read and their partners:

JD_2017_A plane that brings love

From A Plane That Brings Love (Jordan). Written by Wafa T. Qusous and illustrated by Kamil Adil. ©2017 Jabal Amman (Room to Read publishing partner)

LA_2016_Bounty's singing bird

From Bounty’s Singing Bird (Laos). Written by Sinthanou Sidavone and illustrated by Nivong Sengsakoun.  ©2016 Room to Read

NP_2017_Wow A Ribbon

From Wow! A Ribbon (Nepal). Written by Harihar Timilsina and illustrated by Sonam Tamad.  Awarded Best Illustration in 2017 by the Nepalese Society for Children’s Literature.©2016 Room to Read


From Wanyama (Animals) ©2018 Tanzania Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. Developed with Room to Read Technical Assistance

VN_2016_Tiger's trouble with sewing

From Tiger’s Trouble with Sewing (Vietnam). Written and illustrated by Pham Quang Phuc. ©2016 Room to Read

ID_2017_The Little Friend of Putri Pandan Berduri

From The Little Friend of Putri Pandan Berduri, an Indonesian folktale adaptation written and illustrated by Fanny Santoso. Awarded Best Illustration by the 2018 Islamic Book Award in Indonesia. © 2017 Penerbit Bestari (Room to Read publishing partner)

Illustrations from books created by Room to Read





Children’s Book Committee – December 2018 Pick

November 29, 2018

This Is It
Author: Daria Peoples-Riley


Our Young Reviewer Says:

“This book is giving you confidence to do ballet. In this book the girl’s shadow helps her to feel that she can do dance. Her shadow dances here and there.  Her shadow dances on the rooftops.  She follows her shadow, dancing her own dances. So, the girl goes to audition and does what her shadow showed her to do, dance. Dance free.
I am a ballet dancer as well, so for me reading this book it made me happy to see everyone can enjoy ballet too! It is really fun!”

– Annette, 8 Years Old, Brooklyn, NY.

Young people who are interested in reviewing are invited to do so as we welcome the individual perspective of our age appropriate readers. If you are interested in being a reviewer, contact

See our past monthly picks.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Talks About Her New Children’s Book at Bank Street

November 26, 2018
                                                       Keywords: Bold and Brave, Kirsten Gillibrand, Maira Kalman

On Saturday, November 17th, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited Bank Street to talk about her new children’s book, Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote with illustrator, Maira Kalman.

The cover of Bold and Brave:  Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote.  Bank Street College of Education, Shael Polokow-Suransky at Bank Street with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.


Bank Street’s President, Shael Polokow-Suransky introduced the speakers and WNYC’s Alison Stewart moderated an hour long dialogue between Gillibrand and Kalman on the strong female role models in their lives, the famous and unsung suffragettes depicted in the book as well as the historically accurate but kid friendly illustrations in the book.  The discussion served as a reminder that the fight for equal rights is far from over.  Ideas were disseminated for parents and educators who want to help children find their own voices in the struggle for equality and social justice.


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Some other photos from the event:

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We were so grateful to have Miss Stewart, Gillibrand and Kalman with us.  The audience wished the discussion could have lasted all day!





Children’s Book Committee – November 2018 Pick

October 30, 2018

Belle’s Journey: An Osprey Takes Flight
Author: Rob Bierregaard and Illustrator: Kate Garchinsky


Scientists and children track a female osprey’s immigration from Massachusetts to South America and back. Dramatic watercolor pencil, ink, and aqua crayon illustrations. Back matter.

Our Young Reviewer Says:

“Belle is an osprey. You get to meet her as she goes through her first migration, has many encounters along the way, and finds a mate at the end. She starts at Martha’s Vineyard, makes a beeline through Columbia to Rio Madeira. On the way back she rests at Yanomani Village, and at Lake Maracaibo, then flies over the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba where she almost gets shot at a fish farm. She then returns to the Gulf to rest a bit, but flies off quickly to escape a peregrine falcon, going to Florida where she is almost eaten by an alligator. She returns north to the Chesapeake Bay and Martha’s Vineyard. There she meets her mate and they live together on Cape Cod.

I loved everything about this book. I love wild life, especially birds, and especially osprey!! (as it turns out).”

– Maizie, 9 Years Old, Chevy Chase, MD.

Young people who are interested in reviewing are invited to do so as we welcome the individual perspective of our age appropriate readers. If you are interested in being a reviewer, contact

See our past monthly picks.

BookFest @ Bank Street 2018

October 24, 2018
by Dr. Cynthia Weill, Director, Center for Children’s Literature

BookFest @ Bank Street was celebrated this year on October 20, 2018 for the 9th consecutive year and the 47th year in its history!

Some of the biggest names in the children’s literature community joined us for  panel discussions on books for children.  At the end of the day, Bank Street Graduate and  Newbery Honor Winner, Adam Gidwitz gave a thoughtful and brilliant keynote.

The first panel was moderated by School Library Journal Editor, Shelley Diaz.  The panel titled, Collaborative Couples in KidLit  focused on the joys and struggles of living and working with ones creative partner.   Wade and Cheryl Hudson, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann contributed to the wonderful dialogue.

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Moderator, Shelley Diaz with Wade and Cheryl Hudson; Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and Eric Rohmann and Candace Fleming (Photo credits:  Bryan E. McCay)


Next, Author, Emma Otheguy moderated Authors/Illustrators: School Visits and Their Impact on Practice with Adam Gidwitz, Rita Williams-Garcia, Kat Yeh and Stephen Savage.  Each panelist discussed how children had influenced them in their creative work.

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Emma Otheguy with Adam Gidwitz, Rita Williams Garcia, Stephen Savage and Kat Yeh (Photo Credits: Bryan E. McCay)


We were very honored that the President of the American Library Association, Loida Garcia-Febo attended BookFest.

BEMc_Bookfest_2018 IMG_9453.jpg

President of ALA, Loida Garcia-Febo with Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson authors of And Tango Makes Three


Former Bank Street Children’s Librarian and Director of the Center for Children’s Literature, Lisa Von Drasek returned to Bank Street for the day to give a presentation on Writing Boxes: The Reading/Writing Connection for Supporting Literacy in the Library

BEMc_Bookfest_2018 IMG_9735

Lisa Von Drasek speaks at BookFest (Photo Credit: Bryan E. McCay)


Afterwards, participants moved to their book discussion sessions.  Topics included mock Newbery, graphic novels, mock Caldecott and Best Spanish Language Books.

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We were very pleased to have the author/illustrator of Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red (PeachTree Publishers) as a book discussion leader as well.  Bethan Woollvin was visiting from  Sheffield, England.

Bethan with Director of Library Services, Kristin Freda and ALA President, Loida Garcia-Febo. Photo credit: Mollie Welsh Kruger


Our last panel of the day was Bringing the Real World to Life! Illustration in Informational Books moderated by Gillian Engberg with panelists: Maira Kalman, John Parra, Roxie Munro, Melissa Sweet and Zeke Peña.  The group explored the particular challenges and rewards in depicting real people, places, animals and events in informational books.

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Legend: Moderator Gillian Engberg with Roxie Munro, John Parra, Maira Kalman, Melissa Sweet and Zeke Peña (Photo credits: Bryan McCay)


Our final keynote was led by the wonderful Adam Gidwitz.

BEMc_Bookfest_2018 IMG_9978

(Photo credit: Bryan McCay)


At the end of the day, authors and illustrators signed their work for participants.

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Photo credits: Bo Zaunders and Bryan McCay


You can watch the entire livestream of the day thanks to KidLit TV and Epic!  Note that Adam Gidwitz’s keynote begins at: 5:39:45

Twitter: #BookFest18

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors:

Abrams, Candlewick Press, Charlesbridge, Disney Book Group, Enchanted Lion Books, Epic!, Getty, Holiday House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Kane Press, KidLit TV, Lee & Low Books, Lerner, Little, Brown and Company, Peachtree Publishers, Penguin Random House, Scholastic

Some fun photos from the day!

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More resources and press:


Educating Alice

Publishers Weekly



Children’s Book Committee – October 2018 Pick

September 29, 2018

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish
by Pablo Cartaya


Marcus, Puerto Rican by birth but with few connections to his heritage, gets suspended for fighting, whereupon his white mother takes him to Puerto Rico to discover his roots.

Our Young Reviewer Says:

“This book was a stirring narrative of an eighth grader attempting to navigate teen hood while searching for his father in Puerto Rico. I liked that this book was unique in its character choices. It displayed a 14 year old, Marcus Vega, who was widely feared amongst his school because of his size. He was exhibited as a kind and loving family member, trying his best to help his brother on the autism spectrum, and his single mother take care of their family. “

– Gabriel, 12 Years Old, Brooklyn, NY.

Young people who are interested in reviewing are invited to do so as we welcome the individual perspective of our age appropriate readers. If you are interested in being a reviewer, contact

See our past monthly picks.

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