All this literary and artistic activity is part of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition. The program is a longstanding partnership between the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the New York City Department of Education. Brooklyn Public Library has played a central role in judging and display since 2012, taking over from the New York Public Library.
Students participate from every public school program, grades 3-12. In New York that means children from virtually every walk of life, every country and every economic level are recognized for their abilities; winners have come from gifted and special education programs, traditional classrooms and prison. And for each winner, the supervising teacher or librarian receives an award as well.
The Competition is divided into three levels: grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 8, and grades 9 through 12. One book is selected from each school. (The rest should be on display in school.) The school-wide winners are sent on to a jury of artists, authors and experts in children’s literature. From the school-wide winners, the jury selects one city-wide winner and borough winners at each level.
At the annual awards ceremony at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, city-wide winners receive a medal and $500, borough winners, a medal and $100; and the teachers or librarians who advised them, a gift certificate for books from Penguin Random House. Honorable mentions and school-wide winners receive a personal certificate of commendation. There is also an annual exhibition of books, in May, in the Children’s Wing at the Central Library.