American author Jacqueline Woodson is the winner of the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest children’s book award, with the laureate receiving five million Swedish kronor (more than $600,000 at present exchange rates). The award was announced live from Sweden on March 27, and was to be broadcast simultaneously at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Due to technical difficulties, Henry Ascher, member of this year’s award jury, announced the award in Bologna.
Woodson made her children’s debut in 1990 with Last Summer with Maizon (Delacorte), first in a trilogy exploring the friendship of two girls. Her 2014 memoir-in-verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, received the National Book Award. Woodson has published more than 30 books, including novels, poetry, and picture books. Though she has written books for adults, including the 2016 novel Another Brooklyn, she is perhaps best known for her work for young readers.
Earlier this year, Woodson received another honor in recognition of her literary contributions for young readers. In January, Woodson was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader. Woodson told PW during an interview at the time of her appointment, “I definitely believe that reading can change us and shape us in so many ways, and through it we can be exposed to people and places and ideas that we might not otherwise come across or confront in real life.” Over the course of her two-year ambassadorship, Woodson will visit with children across the country, sharing her platform of “Reading = Hope x Change.”
In its citation, the ALMA award jury wrote, “Jacqueline Woodson introduces us to resilient young people fighting to find a place where their lives can take root. In language as light as air, she tells stories of resounding richness and depth. Jacqueline Woodson captures a unique poetic note in a daily reality divided between sorrow and hope.”
The award, which is administered by the Swedish Arts Council, will be presented in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on May 28.