Pam Munoz Ryan Won The Children's History Book Prize
Every year, the Children's History Book Prize awards $10,000 to the best American history book, fiction or non-fiction, aimed at middle grade students. This year, Pam Muñoz Ryan won the prize for her novel Echo. The novel, which already won a Newbery Honor earlier this year, is a blend of historical fiction and magical realism, about children connected across decades and continents by a mysterious harmonica.
Dr. Louise Mirrer, the president of the New York Historical Society which runs the prize, explained that the prize's mission is to "make history accessible to children through compelling narratives that allow them to develop a personal connection to historical subjects." Pam Muñoz Ryan's Echo , which is set in the 1930s and 1940s in various countries across the world, does exactly that — and it also tackles the important themes of prejudice and cultural differences. Although the book is set in the past, the jurors felt that "this page-turner of a novel provided a great entry point for teachers and children to discuss intolerance that continues to exist today," according to Jennifer Schantz, the society's COO.
Pam Muñoz Ryan has had to fight against intolerance in the past, when her novel Esperanza Rising was targeted by parents in North Carolina who wanted to ban books about racism from their children's classrooms. Luckily, that didn't put her off — because no child should be deliberately kept ignorant about important issues. With Echo, Muñoz Ryan is continuing to inspire children to engage with difficult topics like intolerance and injustice — and the Children's History Book Prize is hugely deserved.
Image: Cristina Arreola/Bustle