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NCSS Writing Awards

National Council for the Social Studies honors annually the
outstanding performance of teachers, researchers, and other worthy
individuals and programs, and has encouraged unique and innovative
social studies education projects through its award and grant programs.
Founded in 1921, National Council for the Social Studies has grown to
be the largest association in the country devoted solely to social
studies education. NCSS serves as an umbrella organization for
elementary, secondary, and college teachers of social studies; teacher
educators; researchers; curriculum designers; and curriculum
specialists. The Council engages and supports educators in
strengthening and advocating social studies.

Carter G. Woodson Book Awards

In 1974, National Council for the Social Studies established the
Carter G. Woodson Book Award for the most distinguished social science
books appropriate for young readers that depict ethnicity in the United
States. The purpose of this award is to encourage the writing,
publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social science books for
young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and
relations sensitively and accurately.

At the time, there was a paucity of books relating to racial and
ethnic minorities. In addition, authors and publishers of such books
rarely received the recognition that their efforts merited. NCSS gives
wide recognition to and directly stimulates authors and publishers by
sponsoring the Carter G. Woodson Book Award.

Carter G. Woodson was a distinguished African American historian and
educator who wrote books for adults and young people. Dr. Woodson
received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, and wrote many
black history books as well as the seminal volume on education,Miseducation of the Negro.
He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In
1926, Woodson originated "Negro History Week," which was observed each
year during the second week in February because this week included the
birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas. "Negro History Week"
became "Black History Month." Wood_For his outstanding work in
history, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 1925 by the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Dr. Woodson was a
distinguished social scientist and educator who wrote history books for
young people that told the story of the African American man and woman
in the United States.

The establishment of the award was a result of the effort of the
1973 NCSS Racism and Social Justice Committee, under the chairmanship
of Dr. James A. Banks, University of Washington, Seattle. This
committee focused on the educational needs of minority students and has
given guidance to NCSS in all matters related to equity issues. During
the restructuring of Council governance, the committee was consolidated
with the then Academic Freedom Committee to form the Academic Freedom,
Equity and Social Justice Committee.

The award is presented to exemplary books written for children and
young people each year at the NCSS Annual Conference. Authors are
invited to the conference to receive the award and have an opportunity
to talk about their work during a special panel discussion session at
the conference. They are also provided a book signing opportunity. A
beautifully designed commemorative gift is presented to the author(s)
of the winning books. In addition, a medallion for these books was
introduced in 1998. While only two books, one elementary (K-6), one
middle (5-8) and one secondary (7-12), will receive the Carter G.
Woodson Book Award each year, outstanding runner-up books may be
designated as Carter G. Woodson Honor Books. Award winning books and
honor books are publicized as the recipients of this distinguished NCSS
award. Read the list of past winners

Evaluation Guidelines:
Generally, nominated books are evaluated for five key traits:

  • Respect for ethnic and racial differences and the worth and importance of individual(s)/group(s) presented.
  • Focus on individuals and issues that provide insight into the experiences of racial and ethnic groups.
  • Focus on the interactions among racial/ethnic groups.
  • Avoids portraying the group(s) as "problem oriented"; presentation of positive, balanced with negative.
  • Avoids patronizing, distorting, and stereotyping in text and illustrations.

In addition, elementary books (grades K-6) are also evaluated for:

  • Readability.
  • Suitability to age level.
  • Curriculum enhancement.
  • Illustrations.
  • Pluralistic values.

Middle school books (grades 5-8) are also evaluated for:

  • Stylistic excellence
  • Suitability to middle level students
  • Curriculum enhancement
  • Illustrations
  • Exploration of pluralistic values

Secondary books (grades 7-12) are also evaluated for:

  • Stylistic excellence.
  • Suitability.
  • Scholarship.
  • Illustrations.
  • Pluralistic values.

Eligibility Criteria:
Books nominated for the Carter G. Woodson Book Award should deal with the experience of one or more racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States. To be
eligible, the book must meet the following criteria:

  • Accurately reflect the perspectives, cultures, and values of the particular ethnic group or groups.
  • Be informational or nonfiction. However, it should be primarily a trade or supplementary book as opposed to a book that is primarily a text book.
  • Be written for children or young people (standard terms with specific meaning used by librarians and the American Library Association).
  • Be well written and reflect originality in presentation and theme.
  • The setting of the book must be in the United States of America.
  • Have been published in the year preceding the year in which the award is presented.
  • Be published in the United States, but the author of the book need not be a United States citizen.

Submission Requirements:
Publishers must provide a copy of each title they nominate to the full Carter G. Woodson Book Award Subcommittee. The size of the committee ranges from 14 to 20 members. Please contact NCSS at to obtain the committee mailing list.

You can be added to the Carter G. Woodson Book Award Subcommittee's publisher/author mailing list for notification about next year's award. Simply mail your written
request (including your contact name, publisher name, complete mailing address) to: Carter G. Woodson Book Award, National Council for the Social Studies, 8555 Sixteenth Street, Suite 500, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910 or e-mail your request to