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Bridge To Understanding Award

The Bridge to Understanding Award formally acknowledges the work of adults who create programs that use children´s books to explore cultures around the world in order to promote international understanding among children. Programs that win the award are based in a broad understanding of culture as ways of living and being in the world, and go beyond the surface features of a culture, such as food, fashion, folklore, famous people, and festivals.

This prestigious award was established in memory of Arlene Pillar, an educator who served USBBY as newsletter editor from 1984 until her untimely death in 1990. Organizations eligible for the award include schools, libraries, scout troops, clubs, and bookstores. The program may be a one-time event, or an ongoing series of events, that serves children ranging in age from kindergarten through tenth grade. The award carries a monetary prize of $1000 and a certificate.

Applying for the Bridge to Understanding Award
USBBY is seeking applicants for the 2014 Bridge to Understanding Award. The selection committee will consider such criteria as the care with which books are selected and presented to children in the program, the depth of cultural understanding that the program supports, the number of children reached by the program and the impact on the community as demonstrated by publicity coverage or anecdotal evidence. To be considered, the program must have occurred within 2013. A powerpoint explaining the criteria is available online.

An application and guidelines are available online, or from the USBBY Secretariat, 5202 Old Orchard Road, Suite 300, Skokie, IL 60077. Email: Secretariat@usbby.org. Phone: (224) 233-2030. Deadline for submissions is March 31, 2014. The award will be presented at the annual IRA, ALA, or NCTE Convention, or at a mutually agreeable place and time.


2013 Bridge to Understanding Award Winner Announced

Promoting Global Awareness in Second Graders has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 USBBY Bridge to Understanding Award. The Madeira Promoting Global Awareness project involved second-grade students in an interdisciplinary exploration of culture and succeeded in educating the children´s hearts and minds. While Kristy Wanstrath and Fran Wilson submitted the application for the award, the project involved a school-based literacy group with four second grade teachers as well as the elementary art, music, library, gym, and computer teachers in the Madeira City School District in Cincinnati, Ohio. In the application, the focus of the project was described as helping students "to make personal connections to the characters of the books, develop empathy, and relate to other children of the world through literature." The artifacts submitted with the application documented how the project achieved this worthy goal.

For more information and pictures of the project, check out the blog at http://madeiraglobalawareness2.blogspot.com/ and the online article in World of Words at http://wowlit.org/on-­?line-­? publications/stories/iv4/5/.


2011 USBBY Bridge to Understanding Award Winner

The United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) is pleased to announce that the 2011 Bridge to Understanding Award will be given to the Nativity School of Cincinnati, Ohio, for The Friendship Journey, a project that promotes cross-cultural understanding between children from America and around the world through children’s books, classroom projects, and international exchange.

Established in memory of Arlene Pillar, an educator who served USBBY as newsletter editor from 1984 until her untimely death in 1990, the Bridge to Understanding Award formally acknowledges programs that use children´s books to promote international understanding among children. Lee Galda, chair of the 2011 selection committee, noted that "The Friendship Journey helped students go beyond surface features of food, fashion, folklore, famous people, and festivals to explore culture as a way of living and being in the world. Each year Nativity families welcome students and teachers from abroad through their Student Exchange Program. Since 1979 Nativity has partnered with 36 schools in 22 countries. In September 2010 delegations from Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the Ukraine spent one week at Nativity to collaborate on The Friendship Journey initiative working in international teams on science projects with students in Kindergarten through Grade 8. Throughout the year, a teacher from their sister city of Liuzhou, China, works with students to teach Chinese culture and language."

The Friendship Journey began in 1979 when the Nativity School made a commitment to global education. The school library is the center of the program, with books, memorabilia, and maps to help students begin learning about their partner countries. Integrated across grade levels, their global studies program introduces first graders to other cultures through books and visits from native speakers. Sixth graders explore the complexity of Muslim cultures in such nations as Morocco, Bosnia, and Taiwan.

The award, which carries a $1,000 monetary prize, will be presented to principal Robert Herring on Saturday, June 25th at the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA, during an ALA-USBBY co-sponsored session. Details about the Nativity School and its programs can be found at www.nativity-cincinnati.org.


The 2010 Bridge to Understanding Award was given to Kids Share Workshops, Inc., located in central Vermont, for its innovative arts and book-making projects that raise awareness of global culture. (more)

In 2008, the Bridge to Understanding Award was won by the Public LIbrary of East Lansing, Michigan, for its program, "International Storytime." (more)

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Children’s learning Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, is the winner of the 2007 Bridge to Understanding Award, for its program, "Ni Hao! China for Kids." (more)

A complete list of Bridge to Understanding Award winners is available as a downloadable PDF.

Kristina Applegate-Lucas, founder and director of Kids Share Workshops, and Workshop participants in Nicaragua (above left); Vermont Workshop participants (above right)