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William Allen White
Check out the books from this year's William Allen White Childrens Book Award Master Lists!
Master List for Grades 6 – 8
Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Zora and Me by Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Ghost Dog Secrets by Peg Kehret
Extraordinary Mark Twain by Barbara Kerley
Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael Tunnell
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Master List for Grades 3 – 5
Prairie Peter Pan: The Story of Mary White by Beverley Olson Buller
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm
Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings
Emily’s Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco
Star in the Forest by Laura Resau
WILLIAM ALLEN WHITE CHILDRENS BOOK AWARD
The William Allen White Awards are presented to authors chosen by Kansas students in grades 3 through 8. State educators and librarians determine a master list then students vote for their favorite book after reading several books from the master list. From 1952 - 1999, students read from a single master list and selected one favorite book. However, beginning in 2002, two master lists began being offered, one for students in grades 3 - 5 and one for students in grades 6 – 8. Therefore, two authors are now selected to receive the award. More than 51,500 Kansas students voted this past year, including students from Spring Hill. Past and current master lists along with book summaries can be found at: http://www.emporia.edu/libsv/wawbookaward/
So, who was William Allen White anyway?
William Allen White was born in Emporia, KS on Feb. 10th, 1868. He attended college at Emporia and the University of Kansas. He worked for several newspapers in Kansas before purchasing his hometown paper, “The Emporia Gazette”, in 1895. He was owner and editor of “The Gazette” for the next forty-nine years of his life.
Although he was the editor of what was considered a small-town newspaper, during his career White managed to influence people and politicians far beyond Emporia and Kansas. His editorial writing influenced most of the nation. Throughout his life he become a nationally acclaimed journalist and author of biographies, novels, and short stories. But he was perhaps most famous for his keen and insightful commentaries on contemporary events in the national news. He was very active and influential in the Republican Party but also helped found the Progressive Party. White was a longtime advocate of social reform and individual rights. Yet, in spite of his national fame he remained first and foremost a small-town newspaperman from Kansas.
Being active in politics he knew and supported various presidents including: William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Taft. During the World War I he backed Woodrow Wilson and his policy of internationalism. In 1919 President Wilson honored him when he was selected as a special envoy to meet with representatives of various Russian political factions. White, who opposed racial prejudice and intolerance, played an important part in limiting the influence and spread of the Ku Klux Klan in Kansas.
William Allen White gained national fame with his popular editorial entitled "What's the Matter with Kansas?". Other famous articles he wrote include: "The Real Issue, and Other Stories," "In Our Town," "A Certain Rich Man," "The Old Order Changeth," "God's Puppets," and "In the Heart of a Fool." But it wasn’t until after his death that he received his most impressive award. He was posthumously awarded the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography simply titled: The Autobiography of William Allen White.
At the time of his death, January 31st, 1944, William Allen White was a national celebrity, proclaimed one of the truly great Americans of his age. Life magazine called him "a living symbol of small-town simplicity and kindliness and common sense."
But why is a children’s book award named after a journalist?
In May of 1921 a great personal tragedy touched William Allen White’s life. His beloved 17-year old daughter, Mary, was killed. She was riding a horse in downtown Emporia when she noticed a friend from school and turned back to wave at him. As she did this she accidentally pulled the reigns a bit causing the horse to veer to the side of the road where there was a low hanging branch and she was struck in the back of the head. The blow to her head fractured her skull and she, after lapsing into a coma, died. Mary was young, energetic, intelligent and well-liked. She loved to read. Her death shocked the nation as many readers of Mr. White’s editorials had come to know and love Mary through his writing. After Mary’s death, William Allen White wrote a touching editorial telling about her and her death. In the editorial he wrote of her favorite authors and stated that “she loved books”.
The late Ruth Garver Gagliardo who was a specialist in children’s literature, a former Gazette writer and secretary to William Allen White founded the William Allen White Children’s Book Award in 1952. Her purpose was not only to honor the memory of one of the state's most distinguished citizens but also to encourage the boys and girls of Kansas to read and enjoy good books just as his daughter Mary White had. The White Awards Program was established by Emporia State University and is supported in part by the Trusler Foundation.
Can you tell us anything more about William Allen White and his daughter?
William Allen White’s editorial of Mary’s death ended with this paragraph: “A rift in the clouds in a gray day threw a shaft of sunlight upon her coffin as her nervous, energetic little body sank to its last sleep. But the soul of her, the glowing, gorgeous, fervent soul of her, surely was flaming in eager joy upon some other dawn.” A photo of Mary and the complete editorial can be found at: http://www.kshs.org/places/white/pdfs/brochure_mary_white.pdf AND http://www.kshs.org/cool2/marywhit.htm
To this day a bust of William Allen White, donated by president Herbert Hoover, and his editorial about Mary, which is written on a bronze plaque, can be seen at Peter Pan Park in Emporia: http://kshs.org/places/white/memorial.htm
Since the main character in the book, Peter Pan, never grew up, the name of the park is a fitting memorial for Mary whose premature death caused her to remain forever a child as well.
Vote for Your Favorite Author
Students in middle schools and junior highs all across Kansas will be voting for their favorite William Allen White Master List book. More school students participate in the William Allen White Childrens Book Award Program than in any other state childrens book award program. Plus, it is also the oldest state childrens book award. Hopefully, SHMS students will help keep this rich Kansas tradition alive and successful!
All students at SHMS are encouraged to read as many books as possible from each masterlList then vote for their favorite books in April. When a student has read two books from a master list, he or she is eligible to vote.