Renée Watson, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Rita Williams-Garcia are finalists of the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature 2023. The announcement was made on Monday, June 27, 2022.
The NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature and Young Adult Literature is an international literary award given every odd-number year by World Literature Today founded in 2003. It is an offshoot of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Nancy Barcelo, Kathy Neustadt, and Susan Neustadt Schwartz and is awarded for an author’s entire body of work
The jury for 2023 features William Alexander, Raúl Colón, Veera Hiranandani, Jessica Kim, Trung Le Nguyen, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Lawrence Schimel, Brenda Woods, and M.O. Yuksel. This panel revealed the finalists for the award on Monday which included the following writers of African descent;
A #1 New York Times best-selling author, educator, and community activist. Her young adult novel Piecing Me Together received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honour. Her children’s picture books and novels for teens have received several awards and international recognition. Her poetry and fiction centre around the experience of Black girls and women and explore themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Her books include young adult novels Love Is a Revolution, Piecing Me Together, This Side of Home, and Watch Us Rise, co-written with Ellen Hagan. Her middle-grade novels include the Ryan Hart series, Some Places More Than Others, Betty Before X, co-authored with Ilyasah Shabazz, and What Momma Left Me. Her picture book Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills received several honours, including an NAACP Image Award nomination in children’s literature. One of Watson’s passions is using the arts to help youth cope with trauma and discuss social issues. Her picture book A Place Where Hurricanes Happen is based on poetry workshops she facilitated with children in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Renée Watson reacted to the list by saying on Facebook, “Deeply honoured to be a finalist for the NSK Prize. I’m in such great company! Congrats to all the finalists.”
Carole Boston Weatherford
A Newbery Honour author, New York Times best-seller, and two-time NAACP Image Award winner. Since her 1995 debut, she has published fifty-plus books including these Caldecott Honour winners: Freedom in Congo Square, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Six of her books have won Coretta Scott King Awards or Honors. Weatherford has celebrated music in books like Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane and R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. She collaborated with her son, illustrator Jeffery Boston Weatherford, on the verse novel You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen. With an MFA in creative writing from University of North Carolina-Greensboro and an MA in publications design from the University of Baltimore, Weatherford is a professor at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.
Carole Boston Weatherford responded on Twitter saying, “What a wonderful surprise! Thank you, @NeustadtPrize for this nod. I am honoured. Congratulations to me fellow nominees.”
The New York Times best-selling author of novels for young adults and middle-grade readers. Her most recent novel, Gone Crazy in Alabama, ends the saga of the Gaither Sisters, who appear in One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven. Her novels have been recipients of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalists, Newbery Honor Book, Junior Library Guild, and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. She served on the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children MFA Program, and she resides in Queens, New York.
The 2023 NSK Prize winner will be announced during the 2022 Neustadt Festival, set for Oct. 24–26. They will receive a check for $35,000, a silver medallion, and a certificate at a public ceremony at the University of Oklahoma and are featured in a subsequent issue of World Literature Today.