Discover Great Places Through Reading

Every year, a list of books representing the literary heritage of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands is distributed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book during the National Book Festival. Each book is selected by a Center for the Book state affiliate or state library and most are for children and young readers. Books may be written by authors from the state, take place in the state, or celebrate the state’s culture and heritage.

At the annual National Book Festival, the California State Library and California Center for the Book feature the John and Patricia Beatty Award recipient.  Below are the recipients from 2012 to present. More about the Discover Great Places Through Reading list can be found at: http://read.gov/greatreads/ and printable book lists can be found on this page of the Library of Congress website:http://read.gov/greatreads/downloads.html.

About the Beatty Award

The California Library Association’s John and Patricia Beatty Award honors the author of a distinguished book for children or young adults that best promotes an awareness of California and its people.

A committee of CLA members selects the winning title from books published in the United States during the preceding year. Patricia Beatty donated the initial cash endowment for the Award which now honors both her husband, John Beatty, who served as professor of English history and humanities at the University of California at Riverside prior to his death in 1975, and Patricia herself who died in 1991. Together the Beattys wrote eleven books of fiction for young readers; Patricia Beatty wrote numerous other books for young people, of which many have California or western settings.

The prize of $500 and an engraved plaque are presented to the recipient during the CLA Beatty Award and California Young Reader Award event at the CLA annual conference. The event also provides the author with a forum to speak about his/her book and provides an opportunity for attendees to meet the author during a book signing.

About the 2021 Beatty Award Recipient

The Land of the Cranes, written by Aida Salazar, and published by Scholastic Press, has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the California Library Association’s John and Patricia Beatty Award. Every year since 1989, the Beatty Award honors the author of a distinguished book for children or young adults that best promotes an awareness of California and its people.

The Land of the Cranes is the beautifully-written and vitally important story of a family’s horrific experience of detention and deportation at the California-Mexico border as seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Betita Quintero. Told through both verse and simple yet powerful line drawings, Betita introduces readers to her loving family and joyful life in East Los Angeles. She grew up listening to her Papi’s tales about their people – they are cranes who have come home to Aztlan, what is now the U.S. Southwest, their ancestral home. She has known these stories since she was little, even before her family fled to Los Angeles to escape violence in Mexico. Her peaceful life with her family is very suddenly torn apart when her Papi is deported. Soon after, she and her pregnant mother are detained in cages at an ICE facility, living in horrific conditions, with little hope of release and deep fear about what the future holds for their family. Through it all, Betita draws strength and hope from the same sources she always has– the love of her family, the strength of her community, her Papi’s stories, her own history and identity—written, drawn, and shared with the world in her picture poems.

Aida Salazar’s words perfectly convey the feelings of safety, security, and joy that Betita feels in her family and community, as well as the terror, hopelessness, and brutality of the ICE detention facility. She gives us a young person’s understanding of these horrific events with an honest and authentic voice. Although a work of fiction, it is based on the real fears and lived experiences of migrant families and children all over California. As Salazar writes in the afterword to The Land of the Cranes, “The immigrant community in which Betita was raised in East LA, and the fears, stigmas, and prejudices her community faced are mine, too. Though I was never detained or deported for being a migrant, some in my family and many in my community have been. This is a story I had to tell for us.” With family detention centers still active, and children still being separated from caregivers at our border, The Land of the Cranes is absolutely essential reading for all Californians.

Aida Salazar lives and writes with her family in Oakland California. She was born in Mexico and

grew up in Southeast Los Angeles. She is an author and arts activist whose work for adults and children explores issues of identity and social justice. Her debut novel The Moon Within won the International Latino Book Award. Her short story “By the Light of the Moon” was adapted into a ballet by the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance and is the first Xicana-themed ballet in history.

Beatty Award Recipients 2012 – 2020

Great Read Titles