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Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Posted by on Monday, October 11, 2021 in Robert Penn Waren Center.

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Colleen McCoy is the Outreach Coordinator of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies at Vanderbilt University. She also co-coordinates the Américas Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature.

Tonight (October 11), the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies (CLACX) at Vanderbilt University and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University will team up with the Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress to host the 28th annual fall program for the Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. This virtual “Celebration of Children’s and YA Latin American and Latinx Literature” will feature a panel of award-winning authors: Angela Burke Kunkel (Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built), Aida Salazar (Land of the Cranes), Yamile Saied Méndez (Furia), and Raúl the Third (¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat).

10-11-2021 Americas Award WebinarThe Americas Award was founded in 1993 by Julie Kline at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and since then, has recognized hundreds of exemplary children’s and young adult books that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinx culture in the United States. The award is sponsored by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), is coordinated by Vanderbilt University CLACX and Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and has partnered with the Library of Congress since its inception.

CLASP consists of over 70 Latin American Studies Programs across the country, with the mission to promote all facets of Latin American Studies throughout the world. Its broad range of activities include the encouragement of research activities, funding of professional workshops, advancement of citizen outreach activities, and development of teaching aids in the classroom.

The Américas Award is one of CLASP’s most important programs as it encourages the exploration of complex themes in the classroom and at home. Topics include finding a sense of place, celebrating indigenous past and present, the African diaspora, contemporary issues facing the Latinx community, maintaining and celebrating cultural traditions, immigration and migrant life within the United States, and political repression and social justice throughout Latin America and the United States.

A unique element of the Américas Award is its ability to be used as a resource in the K-12 classroom; the award criteria emphasize “Potential for classroom use.” CLASP offers teacher workshops, book clubs, and community festivals to celebrate the Américas books, and educators and librarians have developed and continue to develop PreK –12 curricula to be used with Américas books.

An additional unique and important element to the Américas Award is the honorable mention and commended titles list. Each year, the Américas review committee selects award winners while also crafting a list of honorable mentions and commended titles. This list has helped school librarians, teachers, and parents around the country discover beautiful stories to fill their libraries, classrooms, and homes.

The list of commended titles is circulated annually and includes an annotated bibliography. Awards are given to up to two books each year and are selected for their distinctive literary quality, cultural contextualization, exceptional integration of text, illustration and design, and potential for classroom use. The goal of the award is to link the Americas to reach beyond geographic borders, focusing instead on cultural heritages within the hemisphere.

Generous support for the Américas Award is also provided by Florida International University, Stanford University, The Ohio State University, UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Florida, University of New Mexico, University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Register here for the live webinar hosted by the Library of Congress on Monday, October 11 at 5:00 PM CDT. Visit to explore related curricular resources, upcoming programming, and to learn more about the award itself.

Colleen McCoy is the Outreach Coordinator of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies at Vanderbilt University. She leads public engagement programs, organizes K-16 teacher workshop series and summer institutes, strengthens Vanderbilt collaborations with Minority Serving Institutions and regional postsecondary institutions, builds partnerships and programing with local cultural arts organizations, and works with teachers to develop curricular resources. She also co-coordinates the Américas Award for Children’s & Young Adult Literature, sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. Colleen is the Chair of the Academy of IB Diploma Programme Partners Board at Hillsboro High School and serves on the Advisory Board for the Día de los Muertos celebration at Cheekwood Estate & Garden.