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AASL Introduces Roald Dahl’s Miss Honey Social Justice Award

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The American Association of School Librarians (A.A.S.L.) (American Association of School Librarians) a division of the American Library Association (A.L.A.), invites members to apply for the Roald Dahl’s Miss Honey Social Justice Award, a new addition to the organization’s awards program. Sponsored by Penguin Random House, the Roald Dahl Award recognizes collaboration between school librarians and teachers in the instruction of social justice using school library resources.

The Roald Dahl Award includes $2,000 for the winner, up to $1,000 in reimbursement for traveling and housing expenses to attend the A.A.S.L. awards presentation during the American Library Association (A.L.A.) Annual Conference (which this year is taking place in Las Vegas), and a $5,000 book donation from Penguin Random House. The deadline to nominate someone is Sunday, June 1, 2014.

“Librarians, especially school librarians, have always been passionate in their concern for equity and access,” said AASL President Gail Dickinson. “The belief that all children can learn is a fundamental belief of our educational system, but ensuring that all children have equal access to information and resources is the core value of school librarians. Teaching social justice through books is something that librarians do in every school. This award will allow school librarians to both showcase and model how they teach social justice in schools.”

The Roald Dahl’s Miss Honey Social Justice Award recognizes A.A.S.L. members who have collaboratively designed a lesson, event, or course of study on social justice. The award is named for Miss Honey, a character in Dahl’s Matilda, honoring the way many of Roald Dahl’s books convey a child’s sense of social justice. In Matilda, Miss Honey is a nurturing educator who supports the eponymous character, a gifted young girl in an unkind home.

“I’m elated to have Penguin Random House come aboard as sponsors of this new award,” said Sylvia Knight Norton, A.A.S.L. Executive Director. “The concept of social justice is embedded into our learning standards. School librarians recognize that in an increasingly global world of information students must be taught to seek diverse perspectives and to participate ethically as members of our society. Now, with Penguin Random House’s support, we’re able to recognize those educators who use the resources of the school library to engage students with these concepts.”

The inaugural presentation of the award celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and applicants are asked to submit projects related to the novel. In subsequent years, projects may use any school library resources which reflect the spirit of social justice as personified in Dahl’s books.

“Penguin is thrilled to be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the establishment of the Roald Dahl’s Miss Honey Social Justice Award," said Carmela Iaria, Executive Director, School and Library Marketing for Penguin Young Readers Group. "We know teachers and school librarians have been championing Roald Dahl’s work for years, and it’s an honor to collaborate with the AASL to recognize this important contribution.”

The 2014 award must be based on Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Future awards only need to speak to the spirit of social justice exemplified by a character from Dahl’s books.

The school librarian must be a personal member of A.A.S.L. On the Roald Dahl Award’s Web page, the A.A.S.L. states, “The librarian has made a significant effort to teach the concept of social justice in creative, inspiring ways. This might include, but not be limited to, teaching about civil liberties, human rights, international justice, genocide studies, and local issues of justice. For example, applicants may design a special lesson, course of study, create a school or district project, or lead their students in some way to address social justice.”

Close attention will be focused on applicants who follow the spirit of social justice in their classroom; namely, those who possess the ability to expose injustice while at the same time inspiring their students to repair the world through justice, service, or advocacy.

The 2014 project will be judged on the degree of joint effort, over a significant period of time, between the school librarian and classroom teacher(s); use of Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and use of appropriate school library resources.

The A.A.S.L. promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change, and develop leaders in the school library field.

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