2021 Malka Penn Prize for Human Rights in Children’s Literature

The 2021 Malka Penn Prize goes to Kim Johnson for

This is my america

The first novel by author Kim Johnson features young readers take a critical look at justice in America

“Kim Johnson delivered a compelling story that addresses the human rights issues of historic racism, corruption, police brutality and incarceration at a critical time in our society,” said Glenn Mitoma, director of Dodd Human Rights Impact. “We are honored to recognize his work and the important message that This is my america brings to young people who live in the midst of fighting systemic racism and who are fighting to redefine what fairness really means in the United States.

Published in 2020, This is my america, a compelling young adult debut novel by Johnson, tells the story of 17-year-old Tracy Beaumont, whose father is on death row for a murder he didn’t commit. Every week, she writes letters to Innocence X, imploring them to take up her father’s case. When her brother then becomes a murder suspect, she sets out to uncover the truth behind the crimes and reveal the roots of prejudice in the American justice system. The producers recently announced that This is my america is in development for TV for HBO Max.

The Malka Penn Prize is awarded annually to the author of an outstanding children’s book addressing human rights issues or themes, such as discrimination, equity, poverty, justice, war , peace, slavery or freedom. Named in honor of author Michele Palmer – who writes under the pseudonym Malka Penn – the award recognizes works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memory or biography and written for kindergarten children in high school. Special attention is given to the stories of people who have been touched by social injustices and who, by facing these injustices, have made a difference in their lives or in the lives of others.

A 2021 Malka Penn Award Ceremony, featuring Johnson as well as a professional development workshop on Countering Racism through Literature, will be held on Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on the UConn Storrs Campus .

In addition to This is my america, the Malka Penn Prize committee recognized the following selections as its 2021 honor books:

For more information, click here.

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