Americas Award Celebrates 25 Years of Latinx Literature for Youth

July 9, 2018 - Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP)

Americas Award Celebrates 25 Years of Latinx Literature for Youth

The LAII has proudly supported the Américas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, which is organized annually each year by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP). In 2018, the award celebrates 25 years. We have reprinted below the CLASP announcement, "Celebrating 25 Years of the Américas Award," which highlights the award ceremony and accompanying programming.


This year, the Consortium of Latin American Studies Program celebrated 25 years of the Américas Award in Washington, D.C. during Hispanic Heritage month. On September 28, 2018, CLASP presented the 2018 Américas Award to Ibi Zoboi for her work, American Street, and to Duncan Tonatiuh for his work Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet. About 60 educators attended the ceremony, while more than 1,700 viewers to date have viewed the ceremony via the Library of Congress’ live-stream on YouTube and Facebook.

CLASP founded the Américas Award in 1993 to encourage and commend authors, illustrators and publishers who produce quality children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States, and to provide teachers with recommendations for classroom use. CLASP offers up to two annual book awards, together with a commended list of titles.

Zoboi’s book, American Street is a complex and multi-layered story anchored around relationships and questions of loyalty. Zoboi shared her experiences writing this book and provided context for teaching this book in a high school classroom.

The second 2018 award winner by Duncan Tonatiuh, Danza! is a magnificent celebration of Amalia Hernández, the dancer and choreographer who founded the famed Mexican dance company, el Ballet Folklórico de México. Tonatiuh shared with educators his unique illustrative style and engaged participants in an exploration of Amalia Hernández and her impact in the world of dance. This picture book is the perfect book for every library.

In honor of the 25 year anniversary of the book award, this year’s Américas Award K-12 educator workshop gave 25 educators an opportunity to learn more about the 2018 book winners, and provided guidance and resources for incorporating these award winning books into their classrooms. Participants brought home signed copies of both 2018 award-winning titles. The workshop was hosted by Howard University Center for African Studies, in partnership with Teaching for Change.

Pre and post surveys were conducted and report a high level of satisfaction with the workshop. All participants indicated that they were “likely” or “very likely” to use the ideas and materials from the workshop in their classrooms, and all participants “felt comfortable teaching about diversity” after the workshop. Participants represented a variety of education professions, including K-12 teachers, librarians, special education teachers, English as a Second Language teachers, and higher education professors. Several teachers attended the annual workshop for the first time (38%).

“This is SO needed, and was a great use of my Friday evening,” expressed one participant, while others reported additional feedback in the post survey, including “Excellent, as usual!” and “So, so good, I love this program! I recommend it to others every year!”

In line with this year’s workshop theme focused on diversity and the role of community, James Huck, the Assistant Director for Latin American Studies Graduate Programs at Tulane University, Denise Woltering-Vargas, the Senior Program Manager of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies Latin American Resource Center, and Colleen McCoy, the Outreach Coordinator at Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies kicked off the event in DC beginning on Wednesday, September 26, with an International Baccalaureate Educator Workshop organized by Julie Kline, Associate Director of University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, for 35 high school teachers from Fairfax County, Virginia.

The 2018 Américas Award ceremony also honored Georgette Dorn, who retired this year from her position as Chief of the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress. With a historian’s dedication to shedding light on the past and acquiring and preserving current cultural and intellectual materials for future generations, she has led efforts to grow the Library’s Luso-Hispanic collections and make them accessible to all. We look forward to working soon with the recently appointed Chief of the Hispanic Division, Suzanne Schadl, an alum of The University of New Mexico.

The awards are administered by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) and coordinated by both Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies. Generous support is also provided by Florida International University, Stanford University, The Ohio State University, UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Florida, University of New Mexico, University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Photos of the event may be accessed through the Flickr website.

Follow the Américas Award on Facebook or join the Américas listserv by sending an email to

The Call for Submissions for the 2019 Américas Award is circulating and the review committee members are already busy reading submissions for this year’s competition. Decisions will be made by April and the ceremony will be held during Hispanic Heritage Month Fall 2019 in Washington, D.C.