Winners and Honorees of Schneider Family Book Awards Announced

Schneider Family Book Award

Last week, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners and honorees of the 2022 Schneider Family Book Awards. The annual awards, established by retired clinical psychologist and author Katherine Schneider and her family in 2003, honor “an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

As a blind child growing up in Michigan, Katherine Schneider loved books and loved to read. But it wasn’t always easy for Schneider—the first blind student to graduate from the Kalamazoo, Michigan, public school system—to obtain the books she wanted to read in Braille. It was also rare to find books that depicted the experiences of people with disabilities.

Speaking to attendees at the first presentation of the Schneider Family Book Award at the ALA Annual Conference in 2004, Schneider explained: “When I was growing up, the librarian at the Michigan Library for the Blind was my hero. He sent me books in Braille and on records from the Library of Congress collection. …That special librarian and my mother who read me many books that were not available in Braille or on records, whetted my thirst for knowledge. The upshot of that thirst was a Ph.D. from Purdue and a very satisfying thirty-year career as a clinical psychologist.”

While Schneider was fortunate to have a librarian and a mother who helped her access literature, she was still frustrated that so few children’s books depicted the experiences of people with disabilities. “In the 1950s when I was in grade school, the only media mentions of blind people were of Helen Keller, Louis Braille, and the seven blind men who went to see the elephant [a parable],” said Schneider. “Other disabilities fared no better.”

The Schneider Awards are designed to address that inequity. Every year, awards are given in three categories: young children; middle grades; and teens. Books must feature a main or secondary character with a physical, mental, or emotional disability. However, “the disability experience” must be “a part of a character’s full life, not the focus of the life.” Schneider Award winners receive a $5,000 prize as well as a framed plaque.

In addition to establishing the Schneider Family Book Awards, Schneider, who also lives with fibromyalgia, sponsors the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s “Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability.” The award is the only one of its kind.

Schneider is the author of several books that deal with disability and aging. Her most recent, “Hope of the Crow: Tales of Occupying Aging” (Wheatmark) was published in 2020. She is also the author of “Occupying Aging: Delights, Disabilities and Daily Life” (Dog Ear Publishing) and “To the Left of Inspiration: Adventures in Living with Disabilities” (Dog Ear Publishing).

Below are the winners and honorees of this year’s Schneider Family Book Awards.

 Young Children

“My City Speaks” (Kids Can Press)
Written by Darren Lebeuf and illustrated by Ashley Barron, this picture book tells the story of a daddy/daughter day in the city, described by a young girl who is blind.

“A Walk in the Words” (Penguin Random House)
Written and illustrated by Hudson Talbot, “A Walk in the Words,” is about a boy with a reading disability.
“A Sky-Blue Bench” (Pajama Press)
Written by Bahram Rahman  and illustrated by Peggy Collins, this book tells the story of an Afghani girl returning to school with a new prosthetic leg.

 Middle Grades

“A Bird Will Soar” (Penguin Random House)
By Alison Green Myers, “A Bird Will Soar” is about a child with autism who loves birds.

“Stuntboy, in the Meantime” (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
By Jason Reynolds, this book tells the story of a boy superhero with anxiety.
“A Kind of Spark” (Knights of Media)
From Elle McNicoll, a neurodivergent author, comes a book about a young girl with autism who rallies for a memorial to the “witches” who were killed long ago in her Scottish town.


“The Words in my Hands,” (Annick Press)
Written by the author Asphyxia, this book tells the story of a deaf teenager searching to discover herself through creativity and social justice work.

“A Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome,” (Macmillan)
Written by Ariel Henley, “A Face for Picasso” is a memoir about growing up with a facial disfigurement.

For more information about the Schneider Family Book Award and Dr. Katherine Schneider, visit the ALA.