Submit Your Votes for the Irma Black Award

Bank Street College of Education, in partnership with School Library Journal, offers for the first time open participation in The Irma Simonton Black & James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature. Bank Street College is welcoming any librarian or teacher of first and second graders to read aloud and discuss the four finalists, and submit their children’s votes for the best picture book of the year.The Irma Simonton Black & James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Irma Black Award) goes to an outstanding book for young children—a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole. The Irma Black Award is unique in that children are the final judges of the winning book. The winning book receives a gold seal and the other three finalists will be honor books with a silver seal, both designed by Maurice Sendak.
If you are a teacher or a librarian, register today on behalf of your classroom or library. Registered adults will receive a link to a secured voting site and will be responsible for voting on behalf of their classroom or their group of children. Any teacher, school librarian or public librarian who works with 1st and 2nd graders or children ages 6 to 8 may participate. Remember only the children’s votes count.
2011 finalists
You Will Be My Friend! by Peter Brownn
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
What Animals Really Like by Fiona Robinson
All the Way to America by Dan Yaccarino
The set of four books can be ordered directly from the Bank Street Bookstore for $60.00 (plus $5.00 shipping).Call 1-800-724-1486 to order today.
How did we get to these 4 finalists?From the many children’s books published each year, an adult group of writers, librarians and educators choose approximately 16 to 20 books that they consider the best candidates for the Award.These books are then sent (in four sets) to the 3rd and 4th grade classrooms at the Bank Street School for Children. As part of their picture book evaluation curriculum, we ask these students to look critically at the art and words and whether these books would be relevant to younger children. Over the course of five weeks the children read and discuss all of the books before selecting four finalists.Then what happens?

The four finalist titles are placed in 1st and 2nd grade classrooms or libraries in schools. The children in these classrooms read, examine, discuss, and re-read the books over a four-week period, before they select the winning book. Twelve schools in five states participated in the selection of the award last year with more than 2,500 children voting on the books.

For help leading a critical book discussion of picture books with children go to the Bank Street College Website.

Where do I get the books?

A complete set of the four titles is available for $60.00 (plus $5.00 shipping) by calling 1-800-724-1486 or emailing No tax will be charged for books shipped to schools and libraries. These titles are also available at your local bookstore or distributor.

When are the votes due?

All votes need to be registered by April 12, 2012

The winner will be announced April 17, 2012

How do I get the silver and gold seals?

Registered participants may send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:

Bank Street College of Education Library

610 West 112th Street

New York, NY 10025

Attn: Irma Black Award

The Irma Black Award will be presented during our Award Breakfast on May 17, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. at Bank Street College of Education.

Who was Irma Simonton Black?

Irma Simonton Black was a writer and editor of children’s books and a founding member (in the 1930s) of the Bank Street Writers Laboratory, which included such stars of children’s literature as Margaret Wise Brown and Maurice Sendak.

The Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature, which commemorates Irma’s achievements, has been presented annually since 1973 by Bank Street College of Education. (The Award was presented in Irma’s name only until 1992, when James Black’s name was added in recognition of his ardent support of the Award.)

For further information about the Award visit the Bank Street College Website.