The New York Historical Society Announces 2016 Children’s History Book Prize Goes to Pam Muñoz Ryan For ‘Echo’
NEW YORK, NY — Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, announced today that author Pam Muñoz Ryan will receive New-York Historical’s 2016 Children’s History Book Prize for Echo (Scholastic Press, 2015). The prize annually awards $10,000 to the best American history book, fiction or non-fiction, for middle readers ages 9–12. This year’s award will be presented by New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on June 2 at 12:30 pm at New-York Historical’s Robert H. Smith Auditorium.
“We are pleased to present our 2016 Children’s History Book Prize to Pam Muñoz Ryan,” said Dr. Mirrer. “Echo is a richly imagined and structurally innovative book that reflects our mission to make history accessible to children through compelling narratives that allow them to develop a personal connection to historical subjects.”
Muñoz Ryan’s Echo beautifully weaves together the individual stories of a boy in Germany during the early 1930s, two orphans in Pennsylvania during the mid-1930s, and a Mexican girl in California in the early 1940s as the same harmonica lands in their lives, binding them by an invisible thread of destiny. All the children face daunting challenges—rescuing a father from the Nazis, keeping a brother out of an orphanage, and protecting the farm of a Japanese family during internment—until their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.
“The theme of standing up to prejudice and injustice and how these struggles are intertwined in the lives of these children from different geographic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds resonated with our educator, historian, and student jurors,” said Jennifer Schantz, New-York Historical’s Executive Vice President & COO, who helps oversee the DiMenna Children’s History Museum. “The jury also felt this page-turner of a novel provided a great entry point for teachers and children to discuss intolerance that continues to exist today.”
The New-York Historical Society annually celebrates the work of an outstanding American history children’s book writer and publisher with the Children’s History Book Prize. The recipient is selected by a jury comprised of librarians, educators, historians, and families of middle schoolers. The three finalists for the prize included Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney, I Don’t Know How the Story Ends by J.B. Cheaney, and My Near Death Adventures (99% True) by Alison DeCamp.
At the New-York Historical Society and its Dimenna Children’s History Museum, visitors are encouraged to explore history through characters and narrative. The Children’s History Book Prize is part of New-York Historical’s larger efforts on behalf of children and families. DiMenna regularly presents programs where families explore history together. At its popular monthly family book club Reading into History, families discuss a historical fiction or non-fiction book they previously read at home, share their reactions, discover related artifacts and documents, and meet historians and authors. New-York Historical’s work with middle school readers and their families is grounded in the belief that offering creative opportunities to engage the entire family helps young readers grow and thrive.
About the Author
Pam Muñoz Ryan is the recipient of the Newbery Honor, the Kirkus Prize, the NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Award, and the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award for multicultural literature. She has written more than 30 books, which have garnered countless accolades, including two Pura Belpre Awards, the Jane Addams Children’s Boko Award, and the Schneider Family Book Award.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
About the DiMenna Children’s History Museum
The DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society presents 350 years of New York and American history through character-based pavilions, interactive exhibits and digital games, and the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum encourages families to explore history together through permanent installations and a wide range of family learning programs for toddlers, children, and preteens.