OAF News

Colleen Nelson, Wab Kinew and Joe Morse honoured with 2019 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards

Toronto, June 14, 2019 – The 2019 winners of the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were announced today at Scarborough’s Eastview Public School - a school with a large Indigenous community, offering Ojibwa language instruction and other indigenous programming.

The winners were selected by two juries of young readers from the school – a jury of grade 3 and 4 students selected the recipients of the Children’s Picture Book Award, and a jury of grade 7 and 8 students selected the recipient of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award.

Each student read the books individually and then worked together with their group to reach consensus and decide on a winner. This process makes it a unique literary award in Canada.

Winner of the Children's Picture Book Award Category

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes

by Wab Kinew (Winnipeg, Man.)
illustrations by Joe Morse (Oakville, Ont.)
Tundra Books

About the Book

Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the U.S. and Canada, some well-known and some not-so-widely recognized. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message: “We are people who matter, yes, it’s true; now let's show the world what people who matter can do.”

What Students Said

  • “This was my favourite book because it showed be how to be positive and how to be a hero.”
  • “I liked that the first part of the book is a poem, and that the second part has information about the heroes’ lives.”
  • “The illustrations are beautiful. The artist made all the people in the story look like heroes!”
  • “I loved the message of the book.”


About the Author

Wab Kinew is a musician and former journalist who is now leader of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba. He was previously Associate Vice-President for Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg, and is the author of the award-winning memoir The Reason You Walk.

About the Illustrator

Artist Joe Morse is known for his portraits of celebrities and sports stars. The recipient of more than 200 international awards, he has been commissioned by organizations from Universal Pictures to the New York Times. He is also the Coordinator of the Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan College.

Winner of the Young Adult / Middle Reader Award Category



by Colleen Nelson (Winnipeg, Man.)
Dundurn Press

About the Book

Fifteen-year-old Sadia Ahmadi is passionate about one thing: basketball. When tryouts for an elite team are announced, Sadia jumps at the opportunity. Her talent speaks for itself. Her head scarf, on the other hand, is a problem; especially when a discriminatory rule means she has to choose between removing her hijab and not playing. Sadias parents, friends and her teammates all have different opinions about what she should do. But it is Sadia who has to find the courage to stand up for herself and fight for what is right on and off the court.

What Students Said 

  • “I really liked how the author took us inside of Sadia’s head. We learned by listening to the way Sadia thought through her challenges.”
  • “This book had a lot to teach us like the value of fighting back versus hanging back.”
  • “It does a good job showing how people are judged by their looks. Every character does it, even Sadia.”
  • “The storyline about Amira, a character who escaped from war, helped me learn what it would be like to be in that situation.”
  • “I liked the message that ‘education is important … if you want to change the world."


About the Author 

Colleen Nelson is a teacher and an award-winning Young Adult author whose previous novels include Blood Brothers and Finding Hope.  

About the Awards 

  • The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her sister, Ruth, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the family renamed the awards to honour both sisters.
  • Two awards of $6,000 each are presented annually to recognize artistic excellence in writing and illustration in English-language Canadian children’s literature.
  • The Ontario Arts Foundation administers the awards with the support of the Ontario Arts Council, which manages the nomination and jury process. These awards are funded through the Ruth Schwartz Foundation.
  • See the full details on the award and the list of previous laureates.


Shoshana Wasser, Senior Communications Coordinator, Ontario Arts Council
416-969-7434/1-800-387-0058, ext. 7434 | swasser@arts.on.ca


Alan Walker, Executive Director, Ontario Arts Foundation
416-969-7413 | awalker@oafdn.ca


The Ontario Arts Foundation (OAF) is passionately committed to building long-term support for the arts in Ontario.  In 2018-2019, the OAF paid $4.35 million in endowment income and $315,000 in awards and scholarships. 

For more than 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has played a vital role in promoting and assisting the development of the arts for the enjoyment and benefit of Ontarians. In 2018-2019, OAC invested $61.1 million in 228 communities across Ontario through 2,252 grants to individual artists and 1,424 grants to organizations.

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