Last night, Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell took home the National Book Award in young people’s literature for March Book Three, the first time that a graphic novel has been awarded the honor.
March Book Three is the concluding volume of Congressman Lewis’s first-hand account of the Civil Rights Movement and his experience as the chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Adapted by Aydin and drawn by Powell, the series is a powerful account of Lewis’s nonviolent fight against racism in the deep South.
NPR reports that Lewis’s acceptance of the award was one of the most emotional moments of the night. “I had a wonderful teacher in elementary school who told me, ‘Read my child, read!’ And I tried to read everything,” Lewis tearfully recalled. “To come here and receive this award — it’s too much.”
Leigh Walton, publicist and marketing director for March publisher Top Shelf Productions shared a photo of the creators after the win:
You’re looking at the first people to ever win the National Book Award for a comic. pic.twitter.com/y1AhhKdCyD
— Leigh Walton (@leighwalton) November 17, 2016
Graphic novels have been among the National Book Award finalists over the past few years. Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona (2015), Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints (2013) and American Born Chinese (2006), and David Small’s Stitches (2009) were shortlisted for the young people’s literature award. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? was a nonfiction finalist in 2014.
March Book Three‘s win is further evidence the graphic novels are gaining acceptance among mainstream readers and literary circles. CBLDF congratulates Congressman Lewis, Aydin, and Powell on their groundbreaking win!
CBLDF has created educator resources for the first two volumes in the March series. We’re currently working on the third volume, so expect more soon!
- Using Graphic Novels in Education: March: Book One
- Using Graphic Novels In Education: March: Book Two