The National Council of Teachers of English Announces Winners of Prestigious Literary Awards - National Council of Teachers of English

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The National Council of Teachers of English Announces Winners of Prestigious Literary Awards 


Contact: Stacey Finkel,, 703-304-1377


November 22, 2021The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) announced the winners of the 2022 Orbis Pictus Award® for Nonfiction for Children and the Charlotte Huck Award® for Outstanding Fiction for Children and its 2022 collection of Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels during a virtual awards event on November 20, 2021.

The three committees are appointed by NCTE and composed of teacher experts who select the honorees each year. The awards recognize outstanding literary works expressly created for children. Anyone who reads the award-winning titles can be confident that they are an asset to a library whether in a classroom, home, or community setting.

“Tapping into words and illustrations to teach compassion, empathy, and understanding can transform our lives and world. The winners and honorees of the NCTE Orbis Pictus, Charlotte Huck, and notable poetry book awards should be read widely. We encourage children, educators, families, and adults to embrace these literacy selections. This year’s winners join a long legacy of influential books and poetry,” NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick said.

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls (HarperCollins), written by Kaela Rivera, is the winner of the 2022 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award® for Outstanding Fiction for Children.

“I was absolutely delighted and deeply grateful to learn that Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls had won the Charlotte Huck Award®. It was one of the awards I’d admired from afar, hoping one day I might be in the running; its quest to unite children with books that inspire their own wonder, imagination, and compassion is one that resonates personally with me. I’m beyond honored that the Charlotte Huck Award committee believes my book lives up to those ideals, and I hope my work will continue to do so,” Rivera said.

The Charlotte Huck Award® was established in 2014 to promote and recognize fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder. The award honors Dr. Charlotte Huck, a professor at The Ohio State University who devoted her career to promoting the role of children’s books in young people’s academic, social, and emotional development. Each year, the committee selects a winner, up to five honor books, and up to eight recommended titles appropriate for ages three to twelve.

The 2022 Honor Books include Amber and Clay, written by Laura Amy Schlitz and illustrated by Julia Iredale; Starfish by Lisa Fipps; Laxmi’s Mooch, written by Shelly Anand and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali; J.D. and the Great Barber Battle, written by J. Dillard and illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts; and Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend, written by Dawn Quigley and illustrated by Tara Audibert.

“This year’s award winner, honor books, and recommended books embody compassion, which is much needed in our world. They provide spaces for children (and adults) to imagine and enact a more inclusive, just world,” said Donna Bulatowicz, chair of the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award® Committee.

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone  (G.P. Putman’s Sons Books For Young Readers), written by Traci N. Todd and illustrated by Christian Robinson, is the winner of the 2022 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award.

“As the daughter of a retired public school teacher and librarian, it means so much to be recognized by the NCTE in this way. Thank you for supporting our work,” Todd said.

“It is my belief that some of the most important conversations in our country are happening right now in classrooms. Having Nina recognized by NCTE is so meaningful, and I hope that this book can both spark conversation and introduce Nina’s story and her music to a new generation,” Robinson said.

The Orbis Pictus Award®, established in 1989, is the oldest children’s book award for nonfiction. It pays homage to John Amos Comenius’s Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657), considered to be the first book planned for children. Each year, the committee selects a winner, up to five honor books, and up to eight recommended titles ideal for classroom use from K–8.

The 2022 Honor Books include Unbound: The Life & Art of Judith Scott, written by Joyce Scott, Brie Spangle, and Melissa Sweet and also illustrated by Melissa Sweet; Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Veronica Chambers; Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer, written by Traci Sorell and illustrated by Natasha Donovan; Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers by Juliet Menéndez; and Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown by Steve Sheinkin.

Sanjuana Rodriguez, chair of the Orbis Pictus Award® committee, said, “Each year, we receive and review hundreds of books. Our committee received close to 500 submissions, and we are inspired by this year’s winners. The books that we chose represent a diversity of topics, including books about nature, advocacy, artists, civil rights, and unsung heroes. Our hope is that these books are showcased in classrooms across the country and that they get in the hands of kids who will also be inspired to continue learning.”

Learn more about the Charlotte Huck Award® and find the list of 2022 Recommended Books here. Learn more about the Orbis Pictus Award® and find the list of 2022 Recommended Books here.

During the same event, NCTE unveiled its 2022 list of Notable Poetry Books and Verse Novels, selected by the NCTE Award for Excellence in Children’s Poetry Committee. The list can be downloaded here.

“We are the only committee in the country that focuses on selecting notable books of poetry and verse novels for children, ages three to thirteen. We are proud of the wide range of themes in this year’s notable poetry books, including new anthologies, advocacy, social and emotional well-being, history, nature, social justice, and science. Our verse novel selections include themes of fitting in, dystopian adventure, refugees, coming of age, and language extinction,” said Ted Kesler, chair of the NCTE Children’s Poetry Awards Committee.


About NCTE 

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. For more than 100 years, NCTE has worked with its members to offer journals, publications, and resources; to further the voice and expertise of educators as advocates for their students at the local and federal levels; and to share lesson ideas, research, and teaching strategies through its Annual Convention and other professional learning events. Learn more at