Photo: Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983) is among seven distinguished writers who were inducted on June 2nd into the NYS Writers Hall of Fame at the sixth annual ceremony. Acclaimed children's book illustrator E.B. Lewis (RIGHT) presented the award to Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation (LEFT). (PRNewsFoto/Ezra Jack Keats Foundation)
NEW YORK -- Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983) is among seven distinguished writers who have recently been inducted into the NYS Writers Hall of Fame. The induction took place on June 2nd at the sixth annual ceremony with a gala at the Princeton Club of New York.
The NYS Writers Hall of Fame was established by the Empire State Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, to highlight the rich literary heritage of New York State and to recognize the legacy of individual New York State writers. A Caldecott award-winning children's book author and illustrator, Keats wrote the beloved classic The Snowy Day, which broke the color barrier in mainstream children's publishing.
"We are honored that Ezra joins six other talented inductees into the NYS Writers Hall of Fame," Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, said. "With Ezra's centenary coming in 2016, this is the perfect time to bring attention to his timely body of work, which celebrates the multicultural nature of our world."
"We're delighted to induct Ezra Jack Keats into the Writers Hall of Fame for his picture books for children," Rocco Staino, Director of the Empire State Center for the Book, said. "His work has stood the test of time and with this recognition it is our hope more people will rediscover Ezra Jack Keats."
Of the writers inducted with Ezra Jack Keats, Isaac Asimov, Allen Ginsberg and Dawn Powell were honored posthumously. Honorees Francine Prose, David Remnick and Colm Tóibín were present at the ceremony.
The award was presented by E.B. Lewis, an acclaimed children's book illustrator and winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, among others. "Ezra Jack Keats's books reflect an exuberant sense of place, and a marvelous embrace of diversity that's as natural as it was groundbreaking in his day," Lewis said. "Through the eyes of a child, he captured the essence of mid-century New York and put dignity on the faces of the heretofore invisible."
Past NYS Hall of Fame inductees include Walt Whitman, Joyce Carol Oates, James Baldwin, James Thurber, Toni Morrison and Kurt Vonnegut.
Nominees to the NYS Writers Hall of Fame were chosen by a selection committee comprised of leading professionals in the fields of education, libraries and publishing, including Rocco Staino, who announced the winners on February 5, 2015, at the New York Library Association headquarters in Guilderland, N.Y.
Plans are underway to house the NYS Writers Hall of Fame at the New York State Library in Albany. In the interim, the NYS Writers Hall of Fame is at the New York Library Association.
(Read more about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and their bookmaking competition in the June issue of OutlooK-12 at http://www.k12hispanicoutlook.com/the-magazine/)