The 2017 Christopher Awards honored 12 books for adults and young people at the 68th annual gala in New York City on Tuesday, reflecting the organization’s mission to celebrate authors, illustrators, filmmakers, and television creatives whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”
The literary awards grew out of the nonprofit organization founded in 1945 called The Christophers. The group is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity, and award winners represent all faiths.
Among the six winners for adult books are Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption, and an Unlikely Family (Harper Wave) by ESPN producer Lisa Fenn, which tells the story of two disabled high school wrestlers; Love That Boy (Harmony Books) by journalist Ron Fournier who urges parents to accept their children as they are; and Kathy Izard’s story about fulfilling her life’s purpose and serving the homeless in The Hundred Story Home (Grace Press).
Pint-Sized Prophets (Advantage Media Group) by pediatric rehabilitation doctor Chuck Dietzen won two awards during the night—the adult book award and the James Keller Award, which is named after the man who founded Christophers and recognizes individuals who are positively shaping the lives of children. The book, which features lessons Dietzen learned from his patients about compassion and resilience, is the first to win both awards in the same year in 20 years.
“I’m so blessed, this is the greatest thing that’s happened to me in recent history,” said Dietzen while accepting the awards. “Thank you to the Christopher Awards for bringing out the better side of humanity in a world full of negative news stories.”
Remaining winners in the adult books category include Spaceman (Crown Archetype), a memoir by retired NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle veteran Mike Massimino, and Operating on Faith (Loyola Press) in which Matt Weber chronicles his life-threatening condition that required the removal of a third of his stomach and its impact on his marriage and faith.
Six children’s books were also honored, including Baby Wren and the Great Gift (Zonderkidz) by Sally Lloyd-Jones; What Do You Do With a Problem? (Compendium) by Kobi Yamada; Ida, Always (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) by Caron Levis; Ada’s Violin (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) by Susan Hood; Soar (Penguin Young Readers Group) by three-time Christopher Award winner Joan Bauer; and Ann E. Burg's YA novel, Unbound (Scholastic Press).
Tony Rossi, director of communications for the Christophers, cited the “powerful love of family” as a unifying theme among this year’s winners. “Be it family we’re related to by blood or those whose kindness and selflessness lead us to form an emotional and spiritual bond, these are the relationships that can change people’s lives and the world,” he said.
In addition to the 12 winning books, Christopher Awards also went to 10 feature films, as well as television and cable programs. A complete list of the night's winners can be found here.