Leading literacy scholar Rudine Sims Bishop, Teaching and Learning, was recently named the recipient of the 2017 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement by the American Library Association.

Rudine Sims Bishop




Professor Emerita Bishop was one of the first researchers to produce scholarly criticism about how African Americans are represented in children’s books and the impact that representation has on children’s lives.

Her globally cited publications have inspired movements for increased diversity in books for young people. Moreover, her work provides the basis for the best multicultural practice and inquiry for students, teachers, writers and publishing houses.

Her work has significantly influenced the growth and appreciation of multicultural children’s literature on an international level.

“Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s critical assessment and cultural optic has had a profound influence on the ways in which generations of librarians, teachers, and scholars present books to children and young adults,” said the chair of the Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, Darwin Henderson, in the ALA’s release. “Her research, knowledge and compassion for readers has broadened the development of African American children’s literature.”

“We are proud that Rudine Sims Bishop’s remarkable contributions have been recognized by this award,” said Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology. “Her extensive publications and her scholarship are globally recognized. For this and for her loyalty to her students and colleagues, Ohio State recognized her in 2013 with its Distinguished Service Award.”

Bishop will accept the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement at the June 2017 ALA annual conference in Chicago.

A rising star

Bishop’s prominence began in 1982 with the publication of her seminal book, Shadow and Substance: African American Experience in Contemporary Children’s Fiction.

In the ensuing decades, she published widely, including the edited volume Kaleidoscope: A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K–8 and more recently, the comprehensive, well-received Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children’s Literature.

She is well known for her often-quoted 1990 essay, “Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors,” which originally appeared in Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom.

For her contributions to the field of children’s literature, Bishop has garnered significant recognition. The National Council of Teachers of English selected her for its Outstanding Elementary Language Arts Educator and Distinguished Service awards.

In 2001, she was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame. In 1996, she has received the Arbuthnot Award, given to an outstanding college or university teacher of children’s or young adult literature by the International Reading Association.

Thanks to her stature in the field, she has served on the selection committees for the prestigious Caldecott and Newbery medals for children’s books, as well as the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury.

Contributions to Ohio State

Bishop joined Ohio State in 1986 and taught children’s literature courses until her retirement in 2002. She directed doctoral research, chaired the Language, Literacy and Culture program and co-chaired the university’s annual Children’s Literature Conference.

In addition, she served on university personnel committees and the university Faculty Senate.

She was known for establishing long-lasting relationships with her students. She has kept in touch with a number of her doctoral advisees, some of whom are current faculty members at other institutions and are playing leadership roles in the field.

In 2004, her family, friends and colleagues honored her by establishing the Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop Scholarship Fund in Children’s Literature to support doctoral students at Ohio State.

Early career

Bishop began her career in 1959 as an elementary school teacher. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from West Chester University, a master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and an EdD in curriculum development (reading and children’s literature) from Wayne State University.

Before arriving at Ohio State in 1986, Bishop taught children’s literature, reading and language arts courses at Morgan State College, Wayne State University, the State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.