Local Author Amina Luqman-Dawson Wins Two Prestigious National Awards

Published on January 31, 2023

Local author Amina Luqman-Dawson and Library Director Diane Kresh during a Juneteenth program hosted by Arlington Public Library on June 22, 2022.

The American Library Association (ALA) awarded Arlington-based author Amina Luqman-Dawson the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award for her novel “Freewater."

The Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of "the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children."

The Coretta Scott King Book Award recognizes an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults.

ALA announced the top books, digital media, videos, and audiobooks for children and young adults—including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery, and Printz awards—at ALA’s 2023 LibLearnX conference in New Orleans.  

"We are beyond happy for Amina Luqman-Dawson and her extraordinary achievement,” said Library Director Diane Kresh. "'Freewater'" is an important story and deserves to be read by every middle school student."

Set in the Great Dismal Swamp, “Freewater” is a middle-grade novel about a secret community of formerly enslaved people. "Freewater" is published by JIMMY Patterson/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 

Luqman-Dawson is the first woman to win both the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award.   

"On the eve of Black History Month, congratulations to our talented Arlington author. Thank you for sharing your voice,” added Kresh. 

Several female authors have received the Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award in the same year including Renee Watson for “Piecing Me Together” (2018), Jacqueline Woodson for “Brown Girl Dreaming” (2015), Rita Williams-Garcia for “P.S. Be Eleven” (2014) and “One Crazy Summer” (2011). The Honor books are those that were not the first place of the year but deserve honorable mention. 

Angela Johnson won the Coretta Scott King Award and the Printz for “The First Part Last” (2004).  

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