EJK Award 35th Anniversary

The 35th Ezra Jack Keats Award winners and honorees were presented at the 2021 Virtual Award Ceremony during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival the week of April 12th!!! Congratulations to the inspiring early career authors and illustrators for their outstanding achievements. See below to read about these incredible winners and honorees, and their remarkable books as well as about all the events presented as part of the 35th anniversary celebration.

The 35th anniversary campaign is produced in partnership with the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection. 

Meet the 2021 35th Anniversary Award Winners and Honorees

EJK Award Ceremony

Watch the celebration that features the winners and honorees accepting their awards, filling us in on what the award means to them, and telling us about their creative processes. A bonus recording of the Q&A session that happened live during the event is included! The Q&A is moderated by Ramona Caponegro, Director of Educational Programming & Content for the 35th anniversary and Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan University.

Learn More About This Year’s Winners and Honorees

Silent Auction Soiree

Kidlit luminaries Pat Cummings, Carmen Agra Deedy and Paul O. Zelinsky are featured in this warm and informative art talk with co-host, gallery director Rich Michelson (R. Michelson Galleries). Included are Rich’s conversations with many of the almost thirty artists who donated original artwork to the auction including Sophie Blackall, Bryan Collier, Oge Mora and Christian Robinson. We’re pleased to report that the auction raised more than $19,000 to increase the monetary award for future EJK Winners and Honorees.

The Snowy Day’s Legacy

Ezra Jack Keats Award winners–author-illustrators Oge Mora and Phoebe Wahl and author Chieri Uegaki discussed the books and teachers that influenced them and how they created their award-winning works. In this session, Ramona Caponegro (see above) and teacher Jacqueline LaRose introduced online toolkits circulated during the EJK Award year, including book discussion guides, read-aloud tips, and fun facts about many of the winning authors and illustrators. (This webinar was originally presented to NCTE in Fall 2020).

Mock EJK Award Panel

Following a year of experimentation and discovery with remote learning, teachers and librarians led a lively and interactive Mock Award panel. Along with moderator and librarian Caroline Ward, the panel consisting of a school librarian, lower school teachers and a university professor, discussed their successful and exciting collaboration, between Friends School of Baltimore lower school students and students from Eastern Michigan University. They employed critical analysis of new and diverse literature and the unique kid-friendly criteria based on the actual Ezra Jack Keats (EJK) Award.

Books of Wonder

This illustrious children’s bookstore in New York City hosted three Virtual EJK Award panels in April 2021 that are now available for viewing.

Two panels featured the 2021 EJK Award Winners and Honorees in their first public appearances following the award ceremony. The first includes the EJK Award Illustrator winner Heidi Woodward Sheffield, and honorees Steve Small and Victoria Tentler-Krylov. The second panel includes the EJK Award Writer winner Tricia Elam Walker, and honorees Raymond Antrobus, Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey.

Watch the Illustrator Panel

Watch the Writer Panel

The third panel featured Pat Cummings (EC Member, award winning author and illustrator) leading a conversation between four past EJK Award winners and honoree: Oge Mora, Meg Medina, Sydney Smith and Mike Curato.

Watch the Luminaries Panel

Documentary Coming Soon

Stay tuned for our original film on the evolution of diversity in American children’s literature and the impact of the EJK Award, the culminating event of the EJK Award’s 35th Anniversary Celebration!

Anniversary Activities

EJK Award winners and honorees, as well as educators, publishers and others will participate in webinars and remote panels with libraries, trade association conferences and book festivals to discuss diversity of characters and concepts in children’s books as well as the future of the EJK Awards

  • In-Person and Virtual Tool Kits for Libraries, Schools and Bookstores

Designed by elementary, high school and college educators, toolkits will include downloadable tips and lesson plans; posters, bookmarks and other graphic materials; social and traditional media pointers, sample posts and hashtags to organize such programs as:

Events & Webinars

Events Calendar


Social Media Tips & Graphics

Check out ideas for your social media posts. Find sample messages and downloadable graphics.

Find Inspiration Here

EJK Clip Art (pdf)

Hi-Res Clip Art Images (pngs)

Learn More

Read our newsletter. Sign up to receive info about the 35th Anniversary. Become a part of the celebration.

Get Updates

Read our Newsletter

Press Room

Find background materials, an EJK Award timeline and digital assets designed for media, but all are welcome to come and browse.

Press Release and other info

Donations are Appreciated

Support the EJK Award winner and honoree prizes and help us promote more diverse literature for kids.

Donate Now

Our Champions

Celebrate our extraordinary group of authors, illustrators and their books with your community.

Winners & Honorees

Discover more about the lives and inspiration of EJK Awards past and present.


Learn how these EJK Award winning publishers continue to advance diversity in children’s literature.


Meet the amazing individuals who have joined us for this momentous year.