Miami Valley author Virginia Hamilton has award in her name

YELLOW SPRINGS — Author Virginia Hamilton, who dramatically changed the face of children’s literature through her celebration of black life and history, is being honored with a new award in her name by the American Library Association and by the publication of a new book, “Virginia Hamilton: Speeches, Essays & Conversations,” released by Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic.

Hamilton, who died in 2002, is internationally known for her novels, biographies, folk tales and slave narratives. Her extensive list of awards ranges from the prestigious John Newbery Medal and National Book Award, and a MacArthur fellowship (known as the “Genius Award”). She was a lifelong resident of Yellow Springs.

“The longer I remain in this small village, my time and place in Ohio, the more deeply I comprehend it as the source for all of the fiction I create,” she once wrote.

The Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement will go to outstanding black authors and illustrators “for lasting and significant contributions to youth or young adult literature.” It is being officially announced today, Jan. 18, at the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston and will be presented at the organization’s conference next summer.

Poet Arnold Adoff, Hamilton’s husband, is co-editor of the book being released in February. Its cover is taken from a portrait of Hamilton that hangs in the Yellow Springs Public Library. Adoff said all his wife’s original manuscripts have been donated to the Library of Congress.

“Virginia would be happy that her work has been deposited in the section honoring 20th century American authors including Faulkner and Mark Twain,” he said. “That legitimizes that she is an American author as well as an African-American author and a children’s author. She didn’t like to be pigeonholed.”

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