Award Named After Author Bill Konigsberg

The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ALAN) has established the Bill Konigsberg Award for Acts and Activism for Equity and Inclusion through Young Adult Literature.

The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English (ALAN) recently announced the Bill Konigsberg Award for Acts and Activism for Equity and Inclusion through Young Adult Literature. The inaugural honor will go to the award’s namesake, author ofThe Music of What Happens, The Porcupine of Truth, and Openly Straight, among other titles.

The Bill Konigsberg Award will be presented annually to an individual who “has acted in selfless advocacy of marginalized youth through the creation, teaching, funding or other form of promotion of young adult literature.”

It was established after Konigsberg spoke out against a fellow panelist at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) conference in Houston in November. During a panel entitled “Disproportionately Censored: A Conversation with YA Authors Who Write about Race, Gender, and Sexuality” on Nov. 17, one panelist said gay people were mentally ill, straight people and police officers were marginalized, and kids need to be protected from LGBTQ literature.

Her fellow panelists and those in attendance were stunned but countered her attack on the LGBTQ community at the time.

NCTE leadership posted a letter in response to the event on Nov. 26. It read, in part, “During the session, one of the panelists unexpectedly expressed abhorrent homophobic views that run counter to NCTE’s well-published beliefs. While NCTE firmly believes in promoting diverse perspectives and supporting intellectual and academic freedom, we do not tolerate or condone beliefs that are bigoted at their core. We want all of our members to know that NCTE and its leadership unequivocally reject bigotry in all forms.”

Konigsberg, however, did not wait that long. He was previously scheduled to speak at an ALAN workshop on Monday Nov. 19 and put aside the 15 minute book talk on The Music of What Happens and gave a moving address about standing up for marginalized kids.

Here, from the transcript on Konigsberg’s website, is an excerpt of his speech, which can be seen in its entirety on youtube :

 

The Bill Konigsberg Award is open to authors, publishers, educators and other individuals standing up for groups of young people who are victimized by hate speech or actions—for 2019 will go to Konigsberg.

Future winners will be selected by a subset of the ALAN Awards Committee from nominations submitted by ALAN members. They will receive $300 and be recognized at the ALAN breakfast. After Konigsberg’s inspiring speech about standing up against hate and actions against LGBTQ youth, an anonymous donor offered to fund the establishment of this award.

 

 

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (kyorio@mediasourceinc.com, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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