This week marks another milestone in the March trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell as March Book Three took home the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.
Announced by the non-profit organization We Need Diverse Books, the award — also known simply as “The Walter” — is given to works that have brought diversity to young adult literature. The award is given annually to one major work, and three honorees are also named.
Named after the late author and third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Walter Dean Myers, the award not only celebrates diversity in YA literature, but also honors the challenges that Myers himself faced in order to diversify the books young to which adults have access, like the recent challenge to Meyers’ Dope Sick in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
Coming on the heels of the National Book Award win, the announcement that March Book Three won The Walter only further solidifies the importance of the graphic novel series not only for the rich historical value it brings to the collective United States narrative, but also the message it gives to individual readers — a message of hope, perseverance, and determination to enact change to protect everyone’s civil liberties. “I am deeply moved for our book to receive this award,” said Congressman Lewis. “It is my hope that it will inspire more people to read and to use their pen to inspire another generation to speak up and speak out.”
Eisner Award-winning creator and illustrator of the book Nate Powell further noted that, in light of the current social and political climate, “it’s more crucial than ever to illuminate the breadth and depth of human experience,” adding:
As storytellers, readers and viewers, we’re all engaged in a struggle between replications of an accepted, dominant narrative and stories that show us precisely how rich and varied people’s perspectives can be. It’s an honor to help bring some of those experiences to life. We can’t let our neighbors’ voices be swept under the rug.
The mission of We Need Diverse Books is to get books with “more diverse characters into the hands of all children.” The Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature is an extension of that goal and March Book Three further promotes this positive message. As co-writer and Congressmen Lewis’s digital director and policy advisor Andrew Aydin notes, “It is an incredible honor to be recognized by an organization that is doing such important work. I deeply admire all that We Need Diverse Books is working to accomplish and find particular joy in this award.”
The formal award ceremony will be held at the Library of Congress on March 31.
To learn more about the March Trilogy and how you can incorporate this award-winning book into your schools and libraries, check out CBLDF’s Using Graphic Novels in Education!
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Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!