2019 marks the 67th year of the award, voted on by Kansas schoolchildren
EMPORIA, Kan. — Special relationships that help youth navigate difficult times are the common theme of the two winning titles in the 2019 William Allen White Children’s Book Awards.
Voters in Grades 3 through 5 selected Pax by Sara Pennypacker. Voters in Grades 6 through 8 chose Ghost by Jason Reynolds.
The 67th annual celebration of the WAW Children’s Book Awards program, directed by Emporia State University and supported in part by the Trusler Foundation, will be Oct. 5, 2019. That day, schoolchildren from across the state of Kansas travel to Emporia for special events including lock-ins, author readings and book signings, along with a parade before the awards ceremony itself. The public is invited. Tickets to the awards ceremony cost $5; all other events are free.
Student representatives present the winning authors with their White Award medals during the ceremony that concludes the special day.
“We are excited to welcome two incredible authors along with students, teachers and parents back to Emporia in October this year,” said Michelle Hammond, dean of University Libraries and Archives. “Allowing this very special opportunity for children to meet with an author of a book they enjoyed further brings that story to life. That moment when the author explains what they really meant in your favorite portion of the book, up close and personal, is when the magic of reading begins.”
In Pax, Pennybacker tells the powerful story of a boy, Peter, and his fox, Pax, whom Peter rescued as a kit. The two have grown up together, but Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes Peter return Pax to the wild. Separated by hundreds of miles, boy and fox have adventures as they work to reunite.
Ghost, the winner in the Grades 6 through 8 category, tells of a middle-school boy nicknamed Ghost who has spent his life running from a painful past and current problems. When Coach recognizes Ghost’s potential and asks him to join an elite cross-country team, the teen will learn whether he can harness his raw talent for speed or if his past will catch up to him.
The William Allen White Children’s Book Award program began April 22, 1952, eight years after the famed journalist’s death on Jan. 29, 1944 – Kansas Day. Emporia State University launched the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, which was guided by Ruth Garver Gagliardo, who was hired by White to write for The Emporia Gazette.
Passionate about books, Gagliardo wrote a regular column that commented on books, music and art, and often concentrated on books for children. She was one of the first to review children’s books for a newspaper, which gave parents, teachers and librarians insights to quality books for children.
Gagliardo’s column led to The Children’s Bookshelf, a book review column in the Kansas Teacher magazine. She also started the Children’s Traveling Book Exhibit, which helped introduce children all over Kansas to good books for 23 years.