NEW YORK — An award for gay and lesbian literature will be included in the American Library Association's annual announcement of children's prizes, a list which features the prestigious and influential Caldecott and Newbery medals.
The library association issued a statement Monday saying that the Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature Award has been added to the ALA's Youth Media Awards, watched closely by educators and librarians as they decide which books to add to their collections. The Stonewall prize honors "English-language works for children and teens of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered experience." Stonewall awards for adult books were started nearly 40 years ago, but the children's category only now.
Books with gay and lesbian themes often place high on the association's yearly report of works most criticized and threatened with removal by parents and educators. "And Tango Makes Three," Justin Richardson's and Peter Parnell's acclaimed picture story about two male penguins who become parents, topped the list from 2007 to 2009.
"Ours is a very inclusive profession and we represent a wide variety of viewpoints," says association president Roberta Stevens, who noted that the decision to add the Stonewall prize was made well before the recent wave of suicides by teens believed to be victims of anti-gay bullying. "Millions of children in this country are being raised by gay or lesbian parents. There are young people who are gay and sometimes they feel very alone. This is a real opportunity for youths who may be feeling alone to read about other like themselves."
The Youth Media awards, announced in January, already include a variety of categories, such as African-American literature, lifetime achievement and best children's audio book.