Known collectively as the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the New Writer Award was established in 1985 and the New Illustrator Award in 2001 to recognize and encourage emerging talent in the field of children’s books. Many past winners have gone on to distinguished careers, creating books beloved by parents, children, librarians and teachers around the world.
The EJK Book Award is given annually to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. An Honor Books category was added in 2012. A distinguished selection committee of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators and experts in children’s literature reviews the entries, seeking books that portray the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family, and the multicultural nature of our world. The EJK Book Award was co-presented by the New York Public Library from 1986 to 2011. Since 2012, the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection has co-presented the award at the Children’s Book Festival, held in April at the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg.
To be eligible, writers and illustrators must have had no more than three books previously published. The award includes a prize of $3,000 for each winner.