A new book award, the Grateful American™ Book Prize attracted a flood of submissions when it was announced last week and continues to stir interest among authors and publishers, according to co-founder of the Prize, David Bruce Smith.
“We knew that the Prize would be well received because it is the only award for historically accurate children’s books. When we did our research in the field of children’s book awards, we found an ‘award gap.’ We were amazed that not one of the 70 or more awards presented each year honoring children’s books, none focused on this genre,” Smith said. He said that almost immediately after the story broke, “we began to see a steady stream of emails cheering us on and alerting us that book submissions were forthcoming.”
Most of the comments praised the Prize for its recognition that early learners benefit from the study of American history and that appealing works of historical nonfiction and fiction play a major role in child development. As one author noted in her email: “I take great heart in knowing that this attention is going to be focused on engaging books about American history for young readers, an area that I believe is incredibly important if we are going to help students understand the people and events that contributed to the greatness of our country.”
Dr. Bruce Cole, the former Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the co-founder of the Grateful American™ Book Prize, has described the U.S. as “a country of historical amnesiacs.” And the surveys and statistics bear him out.
Kids today are hard pressed to describe key historical documents such as the Bill of Rights or to identify important historical figures, including our founding fathers. Many don’t know the roles George Washington, Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson played in the founding of America.
Cole said that he was worried that “today’s emphasis on STEM education [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] is making history courses less attractive to students. Math and science are the fundamentals of the high tech world in which we live, but studying American history is necessary because from the past we learn where we’ve come from and who we are. History provides an invaluable compass to the future that every student should have.”
ABOUT THE PRIZE
The Grateful American™ Book Prize is the only award for excellence in writing, storytelling and illustration for children’s historical non-fiction and fiction focused on the events and personalities that have shaped the United States since the country’s founding. It consists of a $13,000 cash award in commemoration of the 13 original Colonies. It is believed to be among the highest cash awards among book prizes in general. In addition, the winner will receive a not-yet-revealed work to be created by Smith’s mother, the renowned artist Clarice Smith. Authors and publishers can get more information on the book prize’s website.