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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Wanted for Big Cash Prizes: American History Books

GratefulAmericanI think I need a new hobby.  I should collect, and place on a website somewhere a listing of all the high cash, little known book awards for children’s books out there.  Perhaps this already exists somewhere.  Hm.

In any case, it wasn’t long ago that a friend alerted me to the Grateful American Book Prize.  It’s an odd name, no question, but a fascinating award.  First off, its description says of it:

“The new literary award is his way of recognizing authors who pen illustrated works for children that are focused on historical American events and personalities . . .

The Prize will be awarded to the authors of books for children in grades seven through nine dealing with important moments and people in America’s history. The books can be works of fiction or non-fiction and will include illustrations to help bring the author’s words to life. “We are looking for excellence in writing, storytelling and illustration”  . . .

In addition to the fact that it will be among the richest prizes for literary accomplishment, $13,000 – thirteen for the number of original colonies…”

Oh ho, say the masses.  But what kinds of history are we talking here?  There’s a lot of talk about the Founding Fathers on the website.  Are they looking for books that are just along those lines?  Well, honestly, the requirements say that they want American history (no specific kind) in general in books for middle schoolers. Though, looking at why it was created, I do suspect the arbitrators of this award came up with it before the huge masses of middle school kids across the country started memorizing the Hamilton soundtrack.  But who could have predicted that you’d have 7th graders everywhere talking about The Federalist Papers?  I mean, honestly?

Since it’s a new award there’s only one previous winner that I can find, and that’s Like a River by Kathy Cannon Wiechman.

Interested in submitting your book?  Well, I’m letting you know about it too late if you’ve a 2015/16 title.  The deadline just passed.  However, if you’ve a historical book for 7th – 9th graders published between July 2016 and June 2017, keep an eye on this website and wait for the green light to submit.  After all, what may happen here is that because the award is too little known, they might not get a wide variety of different types of history.  So I call upon those of you with a diverse range of historical topics and subjects to submit (if your publisher can send the 8 copies they require).  Inject some new blood here!

NYHSCBPBy the way, this award does make one mistake on its website.  Of the award it says, “it will also stand alone, among the nearly six dozen literary awards presented each year for children’s books. The Grateful American Prize is the only one that recognizes works dealing with American history.”  Not so.  I myself have served on the New York Historical Society’s Children’s History Book Prize, which only looks at American middle grade historical fiction and that award comes with a $10,000 prize.  So you see, my good sweet children’s authors, there are plenty of monetary awards out there if you just know how to look for them.


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Interesting. The Panel of Judges is completely white. Two are women, one of whom teaches the intended audience. None seem to be writers of the sorts of books being honored. As for the prominence of the Founding Fathers on the site, maybe that is why of the two historian judges, one is a specialist in the history of the American Revolution and the Founding of the United States while the other is a specialist on the Civil War. Seems potentially pretty slanted toward honoring a pretty particular sort of historical story.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      That’s the question. So let’s see what they actually award. Results may prove the most telling. In the meantime I’d like folks to send in every possible kind of historical fiction. Let’s fill their submissions with diversity.

  2. But Monica Edinger and Betsy Bird are both white. If they were the judges, couldn’t we trust them to recognize a good historical novel if it bit them in the ankle?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      True. Though I’d point out that Monica counts as a “writer of the sorts of books being honored.”