Book Prize Winners Announced

Covers of For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World and Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection
Covers of the winning books

Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection and For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World Win Goddard Riverside Social Justice Book Prizes

Watch the announcement at our Annual Gala!

For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World has won the inaugural Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice, while Abandoned: America’s Lost Youth and the Crisis of Disconnection claimed the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice.

Abandoned, by Anne S. Kim and published by The New Press, tells the story of young Americans “disconnected from the mainstream of opportunity and disengaged from education and employment.” More than 10 percent of youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither in school nor working. “For millions more, their hold on school and work is shaky at best,” Kim writes. Some emerge from foster care with no meaningful support system. Others grow up in communities besieged by poverty and mass incarceration, or are entangled with the justice system themselves. Kim profiles some of these young people and explores solutions, reporting on how organizations around the country are connecting these young people to brighter futures. 

For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World, by author Michael W. Waters and illustrator Keisha Morris and published by Flyaway Books, tells the story of Jeremiah. He’s a young man with a lot of questions about the violent deaths of Black people he’s seeing in the news, and the actions people are taking in the street in response. His father doesn’t have easy answers, but that doesn’t mean he won’t talk about it—or that he won’t act. Inspired by real-life events, this beautiful picture book is an honest, intimate look at one family’s response to racism and gun violence. It includes a discussion and activity guide for parents and teachers to use with children written by the Muhammad Ali Center.   

Abandoned was chosen by a slate of judges chaired by Doug Bauer, Executive Director of the Clark Foundation and including Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner; Marcia Cantarella, university administrator and author of I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide; and international coach, storyteller and cultural facilitator Ana Polanco. The prize is named for Stephan Russo, who served as executive director of Goddard Riverside from 1998 to 2017. The judges for the Goddard Riverside CBC Youth Book Prize for Social Justice are Beth Puffer, a longtime bookseller at Eeyore’s Books for Children and Bank Street Bookstore, and Nicholas Rodriguez, a poet, indie coffee shop manager, CBC intern and aspiring public school teacher.

See the shortlists for both prizes here.


Goddard Riverside strives for a fair and just society where all people can make choices that lead to better lives for themselves and their families. Goddard serves more than 20,000 New Yorkers each year with programs including Early Childhood Education, After School, employment support, college access, youth programs, homeless outreach, Senior Centers and legal assistance.   

The Children’s Book Council (CBC) is the nonprofit trade association of children’s book publishers in North America, dedicated to supporting the industry and promoting children’s books and reading. The CBC also coordinates the national programs of Every Child a Reader, including Children’s Book Week, now in its 101st year; Get Caught Reading; and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, currently Jason Reynolds.  

The New Press is an independent, not-for-profit publisher of books that contribute to social change. We publish authors who are typically journalists, scholars or activists working in criminal justice reform, progressive education, labor and environmental movements, marginalized histories and more. As a public-interest publisher, The New Press is guided by a mission to publish books that serve public goals rather than just the bottom line, and to amplify progressive voices for a more inclusive, just, and equitable world.