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She Is The First Latina, And Very First Writer Of Color, To Ever Win The Carnegie Medal

Culture & Community By O. DELGADO
She Is The First Latina, And Very First Writer Of Color, To Ever Win The Carnegie Medal

Elizabeth Acevedo is the first Latina and only writer of color to ever win the prestigious Carnegie Medal.

Dominican-American Elizabeth Acevedo has just won the Carnegie Medal for her debut novel, The Poet X, which tells the story of Xiomara, a quiet Dominican girl who joins her school's slam poetry club. Elizabeth, daughter of immigrants and a slam poet herself, is the first Latina and first author of color to ever receive the honor.

The prestigious award recognizes outstanding children's literature and its recipients include authors the likes of C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Neil Gaiman.

According to judges, the novel is an "exploration of culture, family, and faith within a truly innovative verse structure," and it's main character, Xiomara, "comes to life on every page and shows the reader how girls and women can learn to [...] love their own skin," reports The Guardian.

Elizabeth, a former 8th grade English teacher, dedicates the novel to all her former students, and to one student in particular, Katherine, who refused to read any of the books Elizabeth offered because "none of these books are about us."

In The Poet X, Elizabeth created a story that reflects the neighborhood where she and her students grew up, a book for Katherine, and for "all the little sisters yearning to see themselves."

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Yesterday morning THE POET X received two of the greatest honors that can be bestowed on a book for young people in the United States: The Printz Award for best teen fiction published this year, and the Pura Belpré Award for a story for young people that affirms and celebrates the Latinx experience. My heart was pounding when the committee chairs called my name. My hands shook. I wrote this book at night, on train rides in my notes app, in between classes, first thing in the morning before teaching and at breaks in between grading, over the course of SEVERAL years. I didn’t know who would ever read it. I wrote it because I had to. And so I’m honored that whole time I thought it would never find an audience, when I didn’t even know what I was making, folks all over the world were whispering: “Me Me Me. I’ll read it, Liz. And I trust what it is you’re building.” I don’t put much stock in shiny things, but I do believe whenever my voice is amplified, I use that voice to speak truth and to uplift where I’m from—and if stickers let me do that, then let’s get it. And so while these stickers are on my book, I hope if you are making something, if you are compelled to craft a thing, if you are doubting, I hope you know these stickers are for you too. Someone is waiting for you to finish whatever gift you are making so they can see you. So they can see themselves. ✨

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Felicidades Elizabeth - breaking out, breaking in, and representing with pride. Pa'lante siempre.

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