Did you know that over the past 30 years, New York City public schoolchildren have written and illustrated enough books to fill a small library? These are no ordinary books: they are all made by hand and cover a wide range subjects and genres. The best reach heights of artistry and imagination that leave readers awestruck, or laughing, or crying, depending on the author’s intention.
The motive for all this literary and artistic activity is to take part in the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition. The program is the result of the longstanding partnership between the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the New York City Department of Education. The Brooklyn Public Library plays a central role in judging and display, having taken over from the New York Public Library in 2012. By every measure, it has been a great success.
Students participate from every public school program, grades 3-12. In New York that means children from virtually every walk of life, every country in the world and every economic level are recognized for their abilities; winners have included students in gifted and special education programs, traditional classrooms and prison. And for each winner, the supervising teacher or librarian receives an award as well. In that way, the Bookmaking Competition honors the teachers and librarians who fostered Ezra’s artistic talent so many years ago.