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Catherine Reef 2020 Nonfiction Award Winner

The 2020 Nonfiction Award Committee of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, is pleased to announce Catherine Reef as the Nonfiction Award Winner for 2020. Reef will be honored at the Children’s Book Guild Award Luncheon on May 30, 2020, at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, Washington, DC. Tickets are available through our website.

Through dozens of nonfiction books for young adults and middle school students, Ms. Reef has produced a body of distinguished and award-winning work, notable for impeccable research, insightful interpretations, and writing that keeps readers engaged.

Catherine Reef’s biographies offer an in-depth study of legendary figures who represent different eras and fields of endeavor such as Queen Victoria, Frida and Diego, and Sigmund Freud. Ms. Reef’s carefully hewn character portrayals are evident in all her biographies.  Her ability to weave intricate research into a compelling narrative keeps youthful readers involved in the lives of authors such as E.E. Cummings and Ernest Hemingway.  Her historical studies mainly cover topics in African American history: Buffalo Soldiers, Black Explorers, Civil War Soldiers, Africans in America, and the resettlement of African Americans in Liberia.

Twenty-one of her books written from 1996 to 2018 have all received significant distinctions. For example, her 2018 publication Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator, received the Junior Library Guild Selection 2018; NOBLE Book Award for Young Adult Nonfiction, 2018; YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction, 2019; Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, 2019; and Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2019.  The number of books honored show Catherine Reef to be a prolific writer who produces highly regarded works.  Her newest book is Sarah Bernhardt: The Divine and Dazzling Life of the World’s First Superstar which will become available in June of 2020.
Nonfiction Award Committee members Liane Rosenblatt, Winifred Conkling, and Rashin Kheiriyeh, and adviser Maria Salvadore marveled at Catherine Reef’s ability to hook readers early and place characters in complex emotional and political contexts.  Many thanks to them for their spirited discussions about Ms. Reef’s books.

Catherine Reef will be honored at the Children’s Book Guild Award Luncheon on May 30, 2020 at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, Washington, DC. Please note the date and bring family and friends to the Celebration.

2019-2020 Lecture Series Schedule.

Christine Platt Spoke to the Guild on November 14th

Christine PlattOn November 14, Christine Platt spoke to the Children's Book Guild. Platt is a passionate advocate for social justice and policy reform and a believer in the power of storytelling as a tool for social change. Her literature centers on teaching diversity, equity and inclusion to people of all ages. She holds a bachelor's degree in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida, a master's degree in African and African American Studies from The Ohio State University and a J.D. from Stetson University College of Law. Platt formerly served as the managing director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University.

Drawing on her academic and professional backgrounds, Platt spoke about the importance of windows and mirrors in children's literature. She believes that one of the easiest ways to teach race, equity, diversity and inclusion is by normalizing them through storytelling. Many young readers grow up reading "window" books; Platt can imagine how difficult it is to always be looking at the amazing story of someone else--someone who looks nothing like them. It affects readers’ self-esteem and their desire to read and learn. One remedy is to accurately represent society and the importance of all cultures and histories in books, and she makes this a focus of her own writing. "I love that I’m still able to do advocacy work through a different creative medium," she has said.

In Platt's first eight-book series for young readers, main characters Ana and Andrew learn about African American history and culture through visits with their family and traveling around the world. In her latest series, Sheroes, young readers learn about important female historical figures. The first book in the Sheroes series introduces readers to Harriet Tubman and how she became a shero, freeing as many slaves as possible through the Underground Railroad. Other real wonder women of history include Sacagewea, Joan of Arc and Cleopatra. Platt’s first middle-grade work, Trailblazers: Martin Luther King Jr., will be published in fall 2020.

RSVP now

2019 Nonfiction Award Photo Gallery

1 Admiring Crystal
Carole Boston Weatherford receives the Award crystal
2 Liz Bicknell
Candlewick Press Editorial Director Liz Bicknell introduces Weatherford


Carole Boston Weatherford Speaking“My books are tailor made for critical literacy.”
Carole Boston Weatherford SpeakingOn growing up in Baltimore: "Living in a port city expands your horizons."


Maria Salvadore and Rhoda TrooboffWeatherford with Nonfiction Award Selection Committee Chair Maria Salvadore and Guild President Rhoda Trooboff
Carole Weatherford Viewing Nonfiction Award Crystal


Carole Boston Weatherford's mother CarolynWeatherford’s mother Carolyn, who received her daughter’s earliest dictated poems
Weatherford’s son, author-illustrator Jeffrey Boston WeatherfordWeatherford’s son, author-illustrator Jeffrey Boston Weatherford


Guild President Rhoda TrooboffGuild President Rhoda Trooboff
Carole signing copies of her new book, The Roots of RapWeatherford signs her newest book, The Roots of Rap




Author Visits

Book Trailers