A sneak peek of the 3rd Annual Blueberry Award winners

March 5, 2024

Why would one relatively small, suburban library launch its own national children’s book award full of bugs, trees, and climate heroes? 

“The American Library Association does not have an award that’s specifically for nature and climate books,” said Evanston Public Library Children’s Library Assistant Martha Meyer, the force behind the Blueberry Awards, at a special press preview of this year’s honored books. “Climate change is a major challenge of our time and kids deserve to learn about our planet from the very best authors and illustrators. We also need kids to be working with us. The time is late in terms of climate change, and we can’t afford to leave children out of the discussion.” 

The Blueberry Awards honor the best in children’s literature around nature, climate and the environment, with books designed to make children ages 3 to 10 fall in love with the natural world and inspire them to take action to protect it.

“You’ve probably heard about the epidemic of climate anxiety among children,” Meyer said. “You need to talk to children about the truth in an age appropriate way, and be clear that it’s a group effort. The adults are already working on this and we need kids to join in the effort to make a change. A lot of books by even really well known authors mess this up.” 

On Thursday, March 14, parents and kids will get the chance to discover for themselves 35 new books for kids that definitely do not mess it up. This year’s recognized books include two Blueberry Winners, four Changemaker titles that inspire kids to action, and 29 Honor books. They’ll be unveiled at an award ceremony open to the public from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Robert Crown Community Center.

Attendees will see this year’s winning books as they’re announced, watch acceptance videos from the authors, vote on an Audience Choice Award, roast marshmallows over our bonfire and eat s’mores, and take a book walk through our Robert Crown Reading Garden featuring the installation of the newest Blueberry Award winning title. 

Members of the press got a sneak peek of some of the honored titles last week over a blueberry-forward menu at the Prairie Grass Cafe. This year’s Blueberry honorees include stories about how to survive in the wilderness, nonfiction titles sure to mesmerize children ahead of this summer’s total eclipse and double cicada emergence, several titles by and about indigenous voices, graphic novel origin stories for the heroes fighting climate change, and a tale of quirky contractors building an eco-house. 

“We’ve got a cast of characters that looks like Evanston, all sorts of different people,” said Cara Pratt, the City of Evanston’s Sustainability and Resilience Manager, while introducing one of this year’s books. “I think it’s really good for kids to see smart, smart people making decisions about construction who look like them.” 

Pratt is just one of the non-librarian experts who sits on the Blueberry Committee. Staff from the Evanston Public Library and Evanston’s Ecology Center and District 65 bring together diverse expertise – a committee of experts that includes not just children’s literature experts but experts on the science of nature and our environment – that makes the Blueberry Awards unique in the sphere of children’s literature. The selected books are not just appealing to children, but rigorous in the science they include, designed to inspire a new generation of readers and nature-lovers. 

Seats for the Blueberry Award Announcement Party at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, are free but  limited.  Click here to reserve your spot and get more information. 


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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