The winners of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ inaugural Russell Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World were announced on November 29. The award, which celebrates works of nonfiction that contribute to bettering our world and society, is given in honor of its namesake, author Russell Freedman. The Newbery Medalist died in March 2018.

Presented by the community service division of the recently formed SCBWI Impact and Legacy Fund, the award went to Freedom! The Story of the Black Panther Party by Jetta Grace Martin, Joshua Bloom, and Waldo E. Martin Jr. (Levine Querido), and The Tower of Life: How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt Her Town in Stories and Photographs by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Susan Gal (Scholastic Press). Each winner will receive $2,500, and an additional $1,000 to purchase copies of the winning book for schools and libraries.

The finalists for the award included Where Have All the Birds Gone? Nature in Crisis by Rebecca E. Hirsch (Twenty-First Century Books); Animal Allies: 15 Amazing Women in Wildlife Research by Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan (Chicago Review Press); A River’s Gift: The Mighty Elwha River Reborn by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Millbrook Press); Science and the Skeptic: Discerning Fact from Fiction by Marc Zimmer (Twenty-First Century Books); Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ’Round: My Story of the Making of Martin Luther King Day by Kathlyn J. Kirkwood, illustrated by Steffy Walthall (Versify); Little Book of Joy by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (Crown); and Just Wild Enough: Mireya Mayor, Primatologist by Marta Magellan, illustrated by Clementine Rocheron (Albert Whitman).

Over the course of his career, Freedman wrote more than 60 nonfiction books for young readers, receiving three Newbery Honors, a National Humanities Medal and the Siebert Medal, among many other accolades. His influential works, including Lincoln: A Photobiography, Martha Graham: A Dancer’s Life, and Immigrant Kids gave readers insights into the lives of historical figures and American people.