OCTOBER 24TH, 2016

Another great year for the Américas Award!

In September, the Américas Award explored diverse voices found in the Américas Award books through a variety of programs in Washington, D.C.

CLASP awarded the 2016 Américas Award to Ashley Hope Pérez for her work Out of Darkness (Carolrhoda Lab) and Pam Muñoz Ryan for Echo (Scholastic) on September 22, 2016 in front of 60 people at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress’ Hispanic Division and the Center for the Book co-sponsored the program. The book award ceremony fell right before the National Book Festival which took place on September 25th, 2016. The timing of this year’s ceremony welcomed a friendly crowd of past award winners and long-time friends of the award such as Meg Medina, Lulu Delacre (first Américas Award winning author), Alma Flor Ada, and Isabel Campoy. Joining the program once again this year was Oyster Adams Bilingual School, from which students prepared a reader’s theater presentation of an excerpt of Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo.

The annual Américas Award professional development workshop for K-16 educators, Finding Diverse Voices through the Américas Award, was attended by 20 participants, both friends of the Américas award and K-16 educators. This workshop, organized in collaboration with Teaching for Change, attracted educators from around the DC area to engage with Ashley Hope Pérez and Alma Flor Ada on how to diversify classroom libraries. Presentations were also made by educator and curriculum specialist, Katrina Dillon of the University of New Mexico, and Executive Director of Teaching for Change, Deborah Menkart. Participants in the workshop brought home signed copies of 2016 award winner Out of Darkness and Alma Flor Ada’s commended title, Island Treasures. Eleven of the participants were new to the Américas award. CLASP is developing curriculum to accompany Out of Darkness.

Pre and post surveys were conducted and report a high level of satisfaction with the workshop. The data reports that the workshop increased participants’ comfort levels in facilitating conversations about diversity in the classroom, as well as their familiarity with the Américas Book Award. On average, the participants found the workshop very useful for content, curriculum building, and networking. Comments include: “Great space to meet for the workshop; I love being so close and personal with the authors” as well as “I am so glad cultural diversity is becoming an important issue in education. Educational schools for young teaching students need to include it in their academic teaching programs. There is more than one way to teach.”

In addition to the award ceremony and teacher workshop, Ashley Hope Pérez and Alma Flor Ada visited a local public school, the Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) Middle and High School. Students, teachers and librarians learned about the Américas Award on Friday, September 23, 2016. The school is predominantly Spanish speaking and students were eager to learn more about the Américas Award and to hear firsthand from these award-winning authors. The school librarians prepared a small exhibit for Hispanic Heritage month highlighting both authors’ work. Over 150 students and their teachers came out to learn more about Alma Flor Ada’s experience as a bilingual author and educator. The high school was excited to meet Ashley Hope Pérez where CLASP and Lerner Books donated signed classroom copies of this year’s award winner, Out of Darkness.

The 2016 Américas Award is made possible by these important sponsors: Florida International University, Stanford University, Tulane University, Vanderbilt University, University of Florida, University of New Mexico, “University of Utah”:“, and the “University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee.”:
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The Call for Submissions for the 2017 Américas Award is circulating and the committee members are busy reading submissions for this year’s competition. Decisions will be made by April and the ceremony will be held during Hispanic Heritage month Fall 2017 in Washington, D.C.