About Ezra…

Long before multicultural characters and themes were commonplace, Ezra Jack Keats crossed social boundaries by breaking the color barrier in mainstream children’s literature. With his 1962 classic The Snowy Day, Keats portrayed a children’s world of tenements and empty lots as a backdrop for games, dilemmas and friendships; and the happiness, loneliness, fear and courage that children experience the world over. He believed strongly that children of color should see themselves as heroes in picture books and that all readers should see characters of different ethnic backgrounds living and learning the same way they do. His feel for city life was based on his own childhood in Brooklyn, but even for characters in other settings, their surroundings play an essential role in their lives. Working to make a better world was a lifelong commitment, as his body of work and his involvement with UNICEF affirm. He founded the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation with the goal of helping humanity. After he died in 1983, it was Martin and Lillie Pope, President and Vice President of the Foundation, who decided to focus their efforts on a community especially dear to Ezra: children. Promoting literacy, the love of learning and the joy of reading is the Foundation’s mission. Read more about Ezra


…About Us

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has created many programs that support children and educators as well as public libraries, schools and other institutions. Dedicated to highlighting the importance of diversity in children’s illustrated literature, the Foundation presents the EJK Book Award to up-and-coming children’s book writers and illustrators whose work continues in the spirit of Keats. The Foundation funds scholarships in art and music, and has endowed fellowships in the field of children’s literature. In addition, it protects the quality of production for Keats’s books and administers all business connected with the books and characters. The Foundation is also responsible for the Keats Archive, which resides at the eminent de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. And, more than 50 years after the publication of Keats’s first, groundbreaking book, the Foundation continues to offer educators and parents ways to enrich children’s lives with the simplicity, empathy and beauty of his work. Read more about the EJK Foundation