Writers, educators and other lovers of children’s literature eagerly attended this year’s Irma Black Picture Book Award in the Bankstreet Auditorium on May 19, 2011.

About the Award

The Award was established in 1972 in honor of the late Irma Simonton Black (and later her husband as well), who was for many years director of Bank Street’s Publications Division, and a prolific children’s book author. It is given to a book that meets Irma’s own criteria for a great picture book: “a synthesis of text and art, each enhancing the other to produce a synergistic effect that makes the whole greater than its parts.”

The Award is unique in that children themselves choose the winner. Over a four-week period, children in various participating schools are read the books, then analyze and discuss them with their teachers/librarians, and finally vote for a winner. The vote tallies are then submitted to Bankstreet.

The Award’s new curriculum partnership with School Library Journal

For the first time, the Award was able to invite a wider participation in its curriculum program. In partnership with School Library Journal, the program was offered to any librarian or teacher of first and second graders in the United States and Canada. Nearly 10,000 students from 94 schools across the country were able to participate. Previously, only a dozen or so schools were able.

Keynote speaker Perri Klass talks about books and children

Perri Klass, the renowned author and Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics at New York University, spoke movingly about the importance of books in the language and literacy development of young children, and discussed her work as Medical director of Reach Out and Read, a national literacy organization which works through doctors and nurses to promote parents reading aloud to young children.