It’s the dawning of a new day for the author known for a beloved bedtime story—and a new tomorrow for the two winners of an award in her honor. The Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education has announced the two books that are the first recipients of the Margaret Wise Brown Board Book Award for excellence in literature for young children. Give Me a Snickle! by Alisha Sevigny (Orca) won in the 0–18 months range, and Me and the Family Tree by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin (Sourcebooks), won in the 1836 months category.
The 2023 award, named for the Goodnight Moon author and former Bank Street student, acknowledges outstanding board books published (or picture books adapted to board books) in 2021 or 2022 for age 0–3.
Hands-on Selection Process
Both winning titles were chosen from among hundreds of board books evaluated by the Children’s Book Committee. A select group of jurors (comprised of Perri Klass, national medical director, Reach Out and Read; Leonard S. Marcus, children’s literature historian, author, and critic; Mark Nagasawa, director, Straus Center for Young Children & Families, Bank Street College of Education; Takiema Bunche-Smith, senior advisor, Center on Culture, Race & Equity, Bank Street College of Education; Ofelia García Otheguy, professor emerita, The Graduate Center, City University of New York; and Rachel Payne, coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library) then reviewed 17 titles that met criteria set by the Center for Children’s Literature and recommended by the committee. In addition, teachers and children in the Bank Street Family Center read copies of the nominated books and provided feedback to the judges.
To honor both award recipients, the committee will host a virtual event on March 9, featuring a keynote by Klass entitled “Board Books in the Pediatric Exam Room: Something to Chew On” and a panel discussion on the makings of best board books. Registration for the event will begin February 10.
“The Children’s Book Committee has put tremendous effort into the identification of top-quality board books—an area of literature for children that is often overlooked by reviewers—these past two years,” said Cynthia Weill, director of the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature. “We believe that engagement with high-quality board books and literature for babies and toddlers is important for numerous reasons, including for providing stimulation in support of brain development, enhancing visual and memorization skills, imparting an understanding of how the world works, and bonding infants and adults. They are a cornerstone for developing early literacy skills.”
The committee will host a virtual event on KidLit TV on March 9. In addition to the Margaret Wise Brown award, the committee presented its first Best Board Books of the Year list for 2023, with plans to publish the list annually.