The Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children's Literature recognize diverse authors whose works feature diverse main characters and address diversity in a meaningful way.
2023 Walter Awards
THE WALTER AWARD, TEEN CATEGORY
Man Made Monsters by Andrea L. Rogers and illustrated by Jeff Edwards
THE WALTER HONOR BOOKS, TEEN CATEGORY
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
THE WALTER AWARD, YOUNGER READERS CATEGORY
Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy, illustrated by Janelle Washington
THE WALTER HONOR BOOKS, YOUNGER READERS CATEGORY
Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler by Ibi Zoboi
The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat
The Walter Dean Myers Award, also known as “The Walter,” is named for prolific children’s and young adult author Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014). 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.
The eighth annual Walter Awards Ceremony and Symposium was held Friday, March 17, 2023, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC.
Award-winning Jacqueline Woodson, the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, served as ceremony’s emcee. The ceremony was preceded by a symposium on diversity in children’s literature. The symposium, titled “Books Saves Lives,” was moderated by WNDB founding member, CEO, and award-winning writer Ellen Oh. Watch the recording of the livestream below.
The 2023 Walter Awards Judging Committee: Ariana Hussain (Chair), Jeremiah Henderson (Vice Chair), Jennifer Bonilla, Rose Dawson, Jamie Kurumaji, Sara Martinez, Rachel Lee Rickard Rebellino, Juan Samperio, and Monica Valentine.
Submission Guidelines for The 2024 Walter Awards
WNDB is pleased to invite submissions for the annual Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children's Literature, also known as “The Walters,” named after celebrated children’s book author Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014).
The 2024 Walter Awards will be given in two categories: Teen and Younger Readers.
One book will be awarded the 2024 Walter Award for Teen Readers. One to two books will be chosen as 2024 Walter Honor Book(s) for Teen Readers. The age range for these titles is 13-18.
Additionally, one book will be awarded the 2024 Walter Award for Younger Readers. One to two books will be chosen as 2024 Walter Honor Book(s) for Younger Readers. The age range for these titles is 9-13.
The Walters will be decided by a judging committee of esteemed librarians and educators. The Chair and Vice-Chair of the 2024 Judging Committee will be available in March 2023.
The 2024 Walters will be announced in January 2024. The 2024 Walters Awards Ceremony and Symposium will follow in March 2024.
The submissions deadline for The 2024 Walter Dean Myers Awards consideration is November 15, 2023. All shipments must be postmarked no later than November 15, 2023. Shipments postmarked after this date will NOT be eligible for consideration.
- A submission must be written by a diverse author and the submission must be a diverse work. If a work has co-authors, at least one of the authors must be diverse.
- A diverse work constitutes a work written by a diverse author featuring a diverse main character. For works without a main character, the work must address diversity in a substantial capacity.
- Work must be an original work published in English for the first time in 2023 and must be readily available in the United States either from a U.S. publisher or U.S. distributor.
- Work may have been originally in another language and translated, but the first English publication date must be in 2023. Multilingual editions are also eligible as long as the primary language is English.
- For Teen consideration, work must be determined to be for an audience of ages 13-18.
- For Younger Readers consideration, work must be determined to be for an audience of ages 9-13. This category includes picture books in which the format and content are determined to be appropriate for this age bracket.
WHAT IS MEANT BY “DIVERSE”?
Authors must identify as one or more of the following. The main character of the story must also identify as one or more of the following:
- Person of color
- Native American
- Person with a disability
- Marginalized religious or cultural minority in the United States.
- If the work does not include a main character, the subject matter must pertain substantially to diverse experiences and content.
- Socioeconomic status and class do not qualify as diverse for the purposes of this award.
Any submission received that does not meet these requirements will not be read.
Publishers are invited to submit eligible titles for consideration to the Walter Awards Judging Committee. One physical book must be provided to each of the committee members. Please contact WalterAward@diversebooks.org after March 15, 2023, to receive the 2024 Committee members’ shipping addresses.
When publishers submit books, they must supply information regarding which book[s] they are sending. Requested information includes:
- A tally of the books included in the shipment, with the publication dates for each book.
- The diversity with which the author identifies.
- The diversity of the main character or the overall diversity of the work.
Publishers must submit physical copies. Physical copies may be a finished book or an ARC. All ARCs must be followed up with a final printed copy by December 31, 2023.
Self-published titles are not being accepted.
To maintain a professional boundary between judges and authors, no author, their family member, or their business partner may directly send any materials to a judge. If any author, their family member, or their business partner sends a work to a judge directly, that work will be disqualified.
Please note: The last date to mail eligible titles is November 15, 2023. Entries postmarked after this date WILL NOT be eligible for consideration.
For any questions, please contact WalterAward@diversebooks.org.
We look forward to your submissions!
About the Awards
The Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature, also known as “The Walters,” celebrates the legacy of author Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014). Myers served as the third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (2012-2013), authored over a hundred titles, and won countless awards, including two Newbery Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, and was a three-time National Book Award finalist. Throughout his prolific, lauded career, Myers was a life-long champion of diversity in children’s and young adult books.
Inaugurated in 2016, the 2016 and 2017 Walter Awards and Honor Books represented young adult titles only. In 2018, the Walters expanded into two categories: Teen (ages 13-18) and Younger Readers (ages 9-13). One Walter Award is given in each category; one or two titles are also named Honor Books in each category.
For additional questions, please contact WalterAward@diversebooks.org.
The 2023 Walter Awards Judging Committee
Ariana Hussain is a teacher librarian at the Blake School in the Minneapolis metro area and is currently on the Boards of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) of the American Library Association (ALA) and the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY). Before being on the Walters as a jury member and chair, Ariana served on ALA’s Rise: A Feminist Book Project, the Stonewall Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award, ALSC Notable Children’s Books, the APALA Literature Awards, and the Middle East Outreach Council (MEOC) Middle East Book Award. Ariana has reviewed Kirkus, Horn Book, and School Library Journal and is a founding member of Hijabi Librarians, a collective of Muslim librarians that reviews children’s and young adult literature featuring Muslims.
Jeremiah Henderson is a 5th Grade Teacher at Northschool School District in Bothell, WA, and an MLIS student at San Jose State University. Jeremiah served as the Vice Chair of The Walter Dean Myers Awards for the 2023 award year. He has also served on the IBBY Hans Christian Andersen Award for the United States nomination committee for the 2022 award year. Jeremiah has also served on the editorial board for the ALSC (American Library Service to Children) peer reviewed journal Children & Libraries. He is also serving a two year term on the ALSC Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Award.
Rose Dawson currently holds the position of director of the Alexandria Library in Alexandria, Virginia. Youth services being her first love, over the years, Rose has functioned as a storyteller, children’s librarian and youth services coordinator.
She is a life member of the American Library Association (ALA) and an active member of the Ethnic Multicultural Information Exchange Roundtable (EMIERT), Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC), Public Library Association (PLA), and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). Within the Coretta Scott King (CSK) Committee, she has served on the CSK Jury and the Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award. As an ALSC member, she has served on the Theodor Geisel Award, Robert F. Sibert Award, and the Andrew Carnegie Award.
Jamie Kurumaji is a Supervising Librarian at the Fresno County Public Library in Central California. She has a background in music and art history and was a 2020 American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leader. She is passionate about creating inclusive and intentional programming and services for Fresno County youth. Jamie is currently serving a three-year term as an ALA Councilor-at-Large. She has served on a number of book award committees including the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) 2022 Literature Committee for Children’s Literature, the 2021 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee, and the 2021 and 2022 California Library Association (CLA) Beatty Award Committee. She is currently a member of the Advisory Board for Booklist. She is an active member of APALA, ALSC, PLA, and Central California’s local Reforma Chapter.
Sara Martinez was the founding coordinator for Tulsa City-County Library's Hispanic Resource Center where she hosted a myriad of Latinx writers from Gustavo Arellano to Lulu Delacre to Matt de la Peña. She currently manages the Nathan Hale branch, the smallest and one of the busiest branches in Tulsa. Sara has served as a chair of the Greater Tulsa Area Hispanic Affairs Commission for Tulsa City and County; recent projects include Courageous Community Conversations and Let’s Talk about Race. Sara edited ABC-CLIO’s genre guide Latino Literature. A Guide to Reading Interests and wrote The Chicano Movement. Historical Explorations of Literature. After receiving her BA in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley, Sara moved to Mexico City to do graduate work in Latin American Studies and Literature at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She received her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Oklahoma.
This year, Sara helped form and is now Chair of Corazón de la Nación, a Chapter of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking.
Rachel L. Rickard Rebellino is a teacher, researcher, and consultant. She holds a PhD in Teaching and Learning with a specialty in Literature for Children and Young Adults from The Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Rachel has taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses on children's and young adult literature at The Ohio State University and Bowling Green State University. Her academic research focuses on narrative form, digital youth cultures, girlhood studies, and the role of youth literature in facilitating conversations around equity and justice. Her work on youth literature can be found in The ALAN Review, English Journal, The Lion and the Unicorn, and Bookbird as well as in the edited collections Dust Off the Gold Medal: Rediscovering Children's Literature at the Newbery Centennial, Beyond the Blockbusters: Themes and Trends in Contemporary Young Adult Fiction, Critical Approaches for Critical Educators: Engaging with Multicultural Young Adult Literature in the Secondary Classroom, and Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults: A Collection of Critical Essays. She previously served on the committee of The Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry.
Juan Samperio is School Librarian at McKinley Tech HS, previous to being a librarian he taught Spanish in a Middle school setting as well as 8 years of elementary school teaching in a Spanish full emersion school. Juan Also has 2 years of teaching English in Japan and started his career as a Police interpreter for Las Vegas Metro Police Department. Got his Masters Degree in Library Science from Syracuse University and a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from University of Nevada Las Vegas. He is very interested in American History and promoting reading and local History in the District of Columbia.
Walter Award FAQ
WNDB’s definition of who is diverse is stated in our mission statement. Our definition of diversity recognizes all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, Native, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
*We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalization.
Please check our submission guidelines listed above. The guidelines outline who is allowed to submit books and nominations. WNDB is not accepting nominations from the general public; eligible submissions must be sent directly to the Walter Awards Judging Committee by the publisher.
WNDB’s mission is to amplify the voices of diverse authors and to highlight diverse works. If a diverse author wrote a diverse book, he/she/they are eligible for consideration for the Walter Awards.
For our first and second years, the Walters were limited to young adult titles only. Since 2018 the Walter Awards has included two categories: Teen (ages 13-18) and Younger Readers (ages 9-13).
For Teen consideration, work must be determined to be for an audience of ages 13-18. For Younger Readers, work must be determined to be for an audience of ages 9-13.
No. As WNDB’s mission is to amplify both diverse works and diverse authors, both author and main character(s) must be diverse. WNDB admires and respects authors who may not meet this criterion but who write diversity in a thoughtful, respectful, and nuanced manner. This particular award has a specific aim to amplify diverse voices and diverse works and to address this specific issue.
Please get in touch with your publisher. All submissions must come through publishers.
The Walter Awards and Honor Books will be announced in January of the year award. For example, books published in 2017 are eligible for the 2018 Walter Awards; those winners will be announced in January 2018.
There is no fee to submit books for Walter Awards consideration.
Self-published titles are no longer eligible for submission.
For further questions, please email WalterAward@diversebooks.org.