2014 Fact Sheet


The Award for Young Readers' Literature was inaugurated in 1991 and is given annually by the Tulsa Library Trust. In 1992, it was permanently named in honor of Anne V. Zarrow. Its purpose is to give formal recognition, on behalf of the Tulsa County community, to nationally acclaimed authors who have made a significant contribution to the field of literature for children and young adults.

The award consists of a $7,500 cash prize and an engraved crystal book.

Past winners are: Jim Murphy (2013), Jacqueline Woodson (2012), Kathryn Lasky (2011), Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (2010), Christopher Paul Curtis (2009), Louis Sachar (2008), Kate DiCamillo (2007), Sharon Creech (2006), Avi (2005), Susan Cooper (2004), Russell Freedman (2003), Richard Peck (2002), E.L. Konigsburg (2001), Jerry Spinelli (2000), Jane Yolen (1999), Cynthia Voigt (1998), Gary Paulsen (1997), Walter Dean Myers (1996), Lois Lowry (1994), Katherine Paterson (1993), Madeleine L'Engle (1992) and S.E. Hinton (1991).


Jack Gantos is the winner of the 2014 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers’ Literature.


Friday, Aug. 22 – 7 p.m.

Hardesty Regional Library, Connor’s Cove, 8316 E. 93rd St.

Zarrow Award and Young People’s Creative Writing Contest Awards Presentation

Gantos will receive the Zarrow award, and speak about his life and works.  He also will present awards to the winners of the 2014 Young People’s Creative Writing Contest at the ceremony.  Following questions from the audience, he will sign copies of his books.

This program is free and open to the public.


The award is a program of the Tulsa City-County Library, made possible through the Tulsa Library Trust by a grant from the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.


   By his own admission, Gantos didn’t start out as a voracious reader.  At 7-years-old his family moved to Barbados where there was strong emphasis on reading and writing.  He recalls the teachers were friendly and made reading fun. 

   Gantos’ family moved to Florida when he was in the sixth grade, where he discovered students were not as interested in his newfound love of books.  He found solace in an abandoned bookmobile, with three flat tires, parked behind the school’s baseball field.

   As a library helper in school, he would shelve books and dream of having his own book one day among others in the “G” section.  He carried a hardback notebook and wrote his observations, everything from seeing an alligator eat his dog and witnessing a plane crash in his neighborhood to accidently breaking his brother’s arm.  Once every page was full he titled it “Jack’s Black Book,” created a fake library call number, included a due-date card and shelved it appropriately in the “G” section. 

   Weeks went by without so much as a budge, until one day he noticed his book was gone.  A month later he found it returned in the book drop box.  On the last page he asked whoever read it to include their thoughts about his stories. 

   “Whoever wrote this book should seek help,” read the inscription.

   He sought help from the best person he could think of - his English teacher.  She taught him how to better organize his thoughts and encouraged him to keep reading more books.  Using these two guides, Gantos was on his way honing his creative writing skills that would guide his career to the best-seller lists.

   Gantos is being recognized for writing more than 40 books for children, teens and adults, many of which were recognized with distinguished national awards.  In 2012, he received the John Newbery Medal for his book “Dead End In Norvelt.”  His 2002 memoir, “Hole In My Life,” won Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert honors.  He also is widely known for the “Rotten Ralph,” “Jack Henry” and “Joey Pigza” series.

   His career as a professional writer began in 1976 with the publication of “Rotten Ralph,” which he wrote with his illustrator friend, Nicole Rubel.  While continuing to publish books at a rapid pace, he also taught creative writing, literature and publishing classes at Emerson College from 1978-96.  Gantos also has instructed creative writing, literature and other writing-related topics, ranging from introductory classes to graduate-level seminars, at various universities.


  • To encourage children and teens to read and write by promoting the prize, and the author’s books and visit, throughout the library’s summer reading program and the Young People’s Creative Writing Contest.
  • To introduce children and teens to favorite authors of literary distinction and present famous authors as real people and role models.
  • To provide a major event that brings families into the library and is a rallying point for the Summer Reading Program.
  • To give young readers the opportunity to learn from a successful author's writing experiences.


The Tulsa Library Trust is a public foundation created by private contributions to benefit Tulsa City-County Library. Income generated by the Trust's endowment is used to fund projects and purchase materials that the library could not afford through its operating budget.


Kendra Freedom is the chairwoman of the 2014 Zarrow Award Committee, which is made up of community volunteers.  Elizabeth McCormick is chairwoman of the Author Selection Committee.