Challenge Spotlight: Celebrate the Walter Awards

Masthead Waves

Join us in celebrating the 2023 Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature with our newest reading list challenge! In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, this reading list challenge features the 2022 and 2023 winning and honored titles in the Young Readers and Teen categories. 


The Walter Dean Myers Award, also known as “The Walter Award,” is named for prolific children’s and young adult author Walter Dean Myers. Myers was the third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed in 2012 by the Library of Congress. He was a champion of diversity in children’s books. The Walter Awards commemorate Myers’ memory and his literary legacy, as well as celebrate diversity in children’s literature.


Read on to learn more about the 2023 winning and honorary titles!

The Walter Award for Younger Readers

“Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement” written by Angela Joy and illustrated by Janelle Washington: Mamie Till-Mobley is the mother of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy who was brutally murdered while visiting the South in 1955. His death became a rallying point for the civil rights movement, but few know that it was his mother who was the catalyst for bringing his name to the forefront of history.


In “Choosing Brave,” Angela Joy and Janelle Washington offer a testament to the power of love, the bond of motherhood, and one woman's unwavering advocacy for justice. It is a poised, moving work about a woman who refocused her unimaginable grief into action for the greater good. Till-Mobley fearlessly refused to allow America to turn away from what happened to her only child. She turned pain into change that ensured her son's life mattered.


The Walter Honor Books for Younger Readers

“Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler” by Ibi Zoboi: New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi illuminates the young life of the visionary storyteller Octavia E. Butler in poems and prose. Born into the space race, the Red Scare, and the dawning civil rights movement, Butler experienced an American childhood that shaped her into the groundbreaking science fiction storyteller whose novels continue to challenge and delight readers 15 years after her death.

“The Last Mapmaker” by Christina Soontornvat: This fantasy adventure explores a young woman’s struggle to unburden herself of the past and chart her own destiny in a world of secrets. As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, 12-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a conman—and in a kingdom where the status of one’s ancestors dictates their social position, the truth could ruin her. Sai seizes the chance to join an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one aboard with secrets. When Sai learns that the ship might be heading for the fabled Sunderlands—a land of dragons, dangers, and riches beyond imagining—she must weigh the cost of her dreams. Vivid, suspenseful, and thought-provoking, this tale of identity and integrity is as beautiful and intricate as the maps of old.


The Walter Awards for Teen Readers

“Man Made Monsters” written by Andrea L. Rogers and illustrated by Jeff Edwards: Horror fans will get their thrills in this collection of timeworn horror baddies, from werewolves to vampires to zombies. But also included are predators of a distinctly American variety: the horrors of empire, of intimate partner violence, of dispossession. And there are also monsters of Rogers’ imagination that draw upon long-told Cherokee stories of Deer Woman, fantastical sea creatures, and more.


Following one extended Cherokee family across the centuries, from the tribe’s homelands in Georgia in the 1830s to World War I, the Vietnam War, our own present, and well into the future, each story delivers a slice of a particular time period that will leave readers longing for more.


The Walter Honor Books for Teen Readers

“All My Rage” by Sabaa Tahir: From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.


Tahir weaves a story of family, friendship, and romance that starts in Lahore, Pakistan, and winds its way to the Clouds' Rest Inn Motel in Juniper, California. There, two generations—friends Noor and Salahudin and Sal's ailing parents Misbah and Toufiq—struggle to find their true homes and identities


“The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School” by Sonora Reyes: Yamilet Flores prefers to be known for her killer eyeliner, not for being one of the only Mexican kids at her new, mostly white, very rich Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and 16-year-old Yami intends to keep it that way. 


The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. So cute. Told in a captivating voice that is by turns hilarious, vulnerable, and searingly honest, “The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School” explores the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud.


Join Today

Activate the challenge for your library and you'll be entered to win one of two sets of signed copies of the winning titles. Not yet a Beanstack partner? Reach out today to learn more about how Beanstack can help foster a reading culture in your community.



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