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The EJK Awards are given to picture books created in the tradition of EJK that: 

  • Reflect the multicultural nature of our world.

  • Avoid stereotypes.

  • Highlight the universal qualities of childhood, and the strength of family and community.

  • Are respectful of the child’s intelligence, sensitivity, curiosity, and love of learning.

  • Have an original text and original story (no folktales or retelling of folktales).

  • Unify illustrations and text.

  • Display freshness and originality of language and literary expression.

The Award intends to identify and encourage early talent and to promote the creation of outstanding diverse literature for children.

The EJK Writer Award is given for distinguished writing and text, not for illustration, while the EJK Illustrator Award is given for

distinguished artwork that creatively and skillfully embodies the essence of the story or text.

General Guidelines 

  • Submissions must be made by the book’s publisher.

  • An eligible creator (new author or illustrator) must have no more than 3 books published under any name before the book under consideration in its given category. 

  • Books must be published between January 1, 2024 and December 31, 2024 to be eligible for the 2025 awards.

  • Eligible titles must be published in North America and in English. Multilingual/translated books are eligible. 

  • EJK Award Winners must be able to attend the Award Ceremony Luncheon at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival held at the University of Southern Mississippi in April 2025. Publishers are responsible for all travel and accommodation costs. 

  • Self-published books are not eligible for consideration. Books must be available through national distribution, i.e. Ingram or Baker & Taylor. We do not review ebook-only or print-on-demand titles.

Submission Details 

  • Only publishers can submit books that meet the guidelines and criteria for the Award. 

  • Books must be postmarked before or on December 1, 2024, to meet the submission deadline.

  • Publishers must identify submitted books as entries for Writer, Illustrator, or both. This can be done in an enclosed letter or an email to de Grummond. 

  • Publishers must provide a reliable contact person for any correspondence related to the award. 

  • For a book to be considered for the award, copies must be sent to each committee member, to the curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, and to Dr. Deborah Pope, executive director of the EJK Foundation (addresses below). 

  • Publishers must be willing to ship physical replacements in the event a committee member does not receive their original delivery.

Nature of the Awards and the Award Ceremony 

  • The EJK Award ceremony is held in early April during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at The University of Southern Mississippi. To receive the award, the winners must attend this ceremony. The publishers are responsible for making arrangements for winning authors and illustrators to be at the Award ceremony.

  • At the ceremony, the winning author and illustrator will each receive a monetary award of $5,000 and the EJK medallion suspended in lucite and inscribed with the recipient's name, the name of their book, and the year it was published.  

  • Honor book winners will receive a monetary award of $2,000 and a class plaque inscribed with the recipient’s name, the name of their book, and the year it was published. Honor winner attendance is not mandatory, but encouraged. Publishers are responsible for making travel arrangements. 

  • It is required that the publisher purchase and affix the medallion book seals depicting Peter in a red snowsuit from The Snowy Day, or a digital image of the seal, to all winning books. Information regarding the purchase, at cost, of the foil or digital seal can be obtained from 

ejkaward_silver-flat copy.png

2024-2025 Ezra Jack Keats Award Committee

Ellen Ruffin, Committee Chair

EJK Award Committee

416 S. 35th Ave.

Hattiesburg, MS 39402


Sam Bloom

EJK Award Committee

6264 Rogers Park Place

Cincinnati, OH 45213


Monica Brown

EJK Award Committee

1206 N. La Costa Ln.

Flagstaff, AZ 86004


Lesa Cline-Ransome

EJK Award Committee

107 Knollwood Rd. 

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

Pat Cummings

EJK Award Committee

28 Tiffany Pl.

Brooklyn, NY 11231

Jason Driver

EJK Award Committee

8844 NE Towne Ct. 

Bremerton, WA 98311

Melissa Iwai

EJK Award Committee

28 Sidney Pl.

Brooklyn, NY 11201


Cathie Mercier

EJK Award Committee

466 Pleasant Street

Melrose, MA 02176


Deborah Taylor

EJK Award Committee

912 N. Central Ave.

Baltimore, MD 21202

Ex Officio Members 

Deborah Pope, Executive Director

Ezra Jack Keats Foundation                                                                                                                                    

450 14th Street                                                                                                                                                                 

Brooklyn, NY 11215  

Karlie Herndon

Curator, de Grummond Collection

118 College Drive #5148

Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Caroline Ward

Mock EJK Award

8 Osee Place

Cos Cob CT 06807


Mary Osborne

Kaigler Book Festival / School of Library and Information Science

129 Fritzsche-Gibbs Hall
118 College Dr. #5146
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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