We Need Diverse Books Names 2020 Walter Dean Myers Award Winners

Mariko Tamaki's Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me and Padma Venkatraman's The Bridge Home earned The Walter for teens and younger readers, respectively.

The winners of the 2020 Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children's Literature are Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell in the teen (age 13-18) category and The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman in the younger readers (age 9-13) category.

In these fifth annual Walter Awardswhich honor diverse authors whose work features "diverse main characters and address diversity in a meaningful way"there were also two honor books in each category. For teens: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi and With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. For younger readers: A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée and Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, in March.

Read the full press release below.


We Need Diverse Books announces the 2020 Walter Dean Myers Awards and Honor Books for Outstanding Children’s Literature Teen and Younger Readers Categories

January 21, 2020

Washington, DC — The We Need Diverse Books Walter Awards Judging Committee has selected the Winners and Honorees for the fifth annual Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature.

The Awards comprise two categories: Teen (ages 13-18) and Younger Readers (ages 9-13). One Winner and two Honor Books in each category have been named.

2020 Walter Award, Teen Category

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki

and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

2020 Walter Honors, Teen Category

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

2020 Walter Award, Younger Readers Category

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

2020 Walter Honors, Younger Readers Category

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

The Walter Awards Ceremony and Symposium will be held Friday, March 13, 2020, in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The events begin at 9:30 AM.

Award-winning author Grace Lin will serve as Ceremony’s Emcee. Honored guest Christopher Myers, son of the late Walter Dean Myers, will speak at the Ceremony. The Walter Awards will also celebrate special guest Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop.

The Ceremony will be preceded by a Symposium on diversity in children’s literature, co-hosted by the Library of Congress. The Symposium, titled “There is work to be done! Recognize. Validate. Acknowledge. The Walter Dean Myers Awards Turn Five,” will be moderated by WNDB Chief Operating Officer and novelist Dhonielle Clayton.

The Walter Dean Myers Award, also known as “The Walter,” is named for prolific children’s and young adult author Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014). Myers was the third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed in 2012 by the Library of Congress. He was a champion of diversity in children’s books. The Walter Awards commemorate Myers’ memory and his literary legacy, as well as celebrate diversity in children’s literature.

The 2020 Walter Awards Judging Committee: Derek Ivie (Committee Chair, Youth Services Coordinator, Suffolk Cooperative Library System), L. Lee Butler (Upper School Librarian, The Key School), Shelley Diaz (Youth Selector/Supervising Librarian, Book Ops), Sandra Farag (Manager, Collection Development–Youth, Ingram Library Services), Nikki Santiago (UC Berkeley Master’s candidate and former Teen Librarian, Berkeley Public Library), Morika Tsujimura (Science and Math Teacher, Grace Church School), and Ny’ilah Whitaker (Assistant Manager/Young Adult Services, Enoch Pratt Free Library). 

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