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New-York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize

Congratulations to Helen Frost for Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War, winner of the 2nd Annual New-York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize!

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost

Helen Frost brings us a rare story, written completely in verse, of two boys growing up in the Indiana Territory in 1812. Anikwa and James’ worlds are the same and totally different. Both are 12-year-olds who love to hunt and explore the natural world. But when war between the United States and Great Britain breaks out in their own backyards in Fort Wayne, Indiana, precious commodities like salt become scarce. This conflict threatening the lives of Anikwa’s Miami tribe and white settlers like James. Frost shows us how the War of 1812 divided native and settler communities who had enjoyed a brief period of peace and mutual dependence, and gives readers a peek at a conflict rarely explored in schools.

The New-York Historical Society is dedicated to exploring history through characters and narrative. To compliment that endeavor, the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library in the DiMenna Children’s History Museum has a wide selection of children’s books about American and New York history.

In addition to holding a sizable collection of picture and young adult books, the Children’s History Library hosts a variety of family programs, including the Reading into History Family Book Club. Each month families read a historical fiction or nonfiction book at home and then attend a book club event where they share reactions to the book, see Museum artifacts and documents related to the book up close, and meet historians and authors. The New-York Historical Society’s work with middle grade readers and their families is grounded in the belief that as children grow up, we need to provide opportunities to engage them and their whole families through literature.


Through the Children’s History Book Prize, the New-York Historical Society looks to honor the best children’s historical literature and encourage authors to continue to create engaging and challenging narratives that provide a window into the past for middle readers and their families. The award to the author is $10,000. The jury is comprised of librarians, educators, historians, and families with middle grade readers.

To submit books for consideration for the 3rd Annual New-York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize, please send six reader copies to:

Alice Stevenson
Director, DiMenna Children’s History Museum
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Only books published in 2015 are eligible. Submissions must be received no later than October 15, 2015.


Finalists for the 2nd Annual Children’s History Book Prize:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
In vivid poems, Woodson shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s. Each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged. Each line offers a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. (National Book Foundation)

Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
During World War II, African American soldiers were often relegated to service and security jobs and denied training, as well as active-combat positions available to their fellow white soldiers. Expertly woven together are two narratives: the large, overarching history of rampant racism in the U.S. Military and the smaller, tightly focused account of a group of black soldiers determined to serve their country and demonstrate their value as soldiers. They faced multiple setbacks as they encountered racism, sometimes justified as “policy.” (School Library Journal)

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
Set in Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, One Came Home tells the story of 13-year-old Georgie Burkhardt’s quest to track down the truth about her missing sister. The story unfolds during the largest passenger pigeon nesting season ever seen in North American, and Timberlake captures the life of this Midwestern town, Georgie’s shop-keeping family, and how the pigeon nesting could transform the landscape and economy of a small town. 

Kristin Levine was awarded the 1st Annual New-York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize for The Lions of Little Rock

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
In 1958 Little Rock, Arkansas, painfully shy 12-year-old Marlee sees her city and family divided over school integration, but her friendship with Liz, a new student, helps her find her voice and fight against racism.

Finalists for the 1st Annual Children’s History Book Prize:  
(book descriptions from the Library of Congress)

Crow by Barbara Wright
In 1898, Moses Thomas’s summer vacation does not go exactly as planned as he contends with family problems and the ever-changing alliances among his friends at the same time as he is exposed to the escalating tension between the African-American and white communities of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, thirteen-year-old Tetsu and his family are sent to the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona where a fellow prisoner starts a baseball team, but when Tetsu’s sister becomes ill and he feels responsible, he stops playing.

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Told by a banker that he should sell fried chicken rather than books, since "Negroes don’t read", Lewis Michaux defies the odds to build Harlem’s National Memorial African Bookstore, an intellectual center and gathering place from 1939 to 1975.

Read these books and more like them in the New-York Historical Society's monthly family book club, Reading into History.




The New-York Historical Society’s Children’s History Book Prize is awarded to the best American history book, fiction or non-fiction, for middle readers ages 9 – 12.

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