Carol Gay Award

The Carol Gay Award, initiated in 1997 as an undergraduate essay award to honor one of ChLA’s founding members, Carol Gay of Youngstown State University in Ohio, by her husband, Tom Gay, is presented to a college undergraduate for an outstanding paper which contributes to the field of children's literature.  This award is to be considered annually and awarded as warranted.

Submission Period:

December 15 - February 1

Submission Guidelines:

  • The papers should be original and at least 2500 words, but not more than 4000 words, in length, including notes and works cited.

  • The papers should show evidence of scholarly research; i.e., there should be a bibliography with more than the primary works included.

  • The papers should conform to MLA style.

  • The paper need not have been written for a class but must be accompanied by a cover letter written by a current ChLA member. 

  • Submitters should include their email address and that of the students so that all can be notified of the outcome as soon as possible.If the students do not have email, the submitters should notify the students if they did not win.

  • A student may only be the recipient of the Carol Gay Award once during their time as an undergraduate student.

  • All nominated papers must be accompanied by a cover letter and submitted electronically on behalf of the student by a faculty member.

  • Only two submissions per faculty member will be accepted.

Past Carol Gay Award Recipients:


Winner: Molly Kate Kreider for “Ghost Stories: Time, the Agentic Past, and the Power of the Individual in Young Adult Fiction”, sponsored by Elisabeth Gruner (University of Richmond)

Honor: Jonathan Goodrich for “Mythic Intertextuality in Adolescent Literature,” sponsored by Kara Keeling (Christopher Newport University)


Winner: Lauren Clark for “Welcome to Mr. Kraus’s Neighborhood: Subversive Horror in the Daniel Kraus Archive”, sponsored by Courtney Weikle-Mills (University of Pittsburgh)

Honor: Emily Tang for “Lost in Translation: The Westernization of The Boy Who Drew Cats”, sponsored by Amy Bennet-Zendzian (Boston University)


Winner: Vaishnavi Phadnis for "Ged’s Seasons: Style and Sympathy in Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea", sponsored by Marah Gubar (MIT)

Honor: Shannon Williams for "Cross-Dressing and the Minimization of Trans* Issues in Riley Redgate’s Noteworthy" sponsored by Amanda Greenwell (Central Connecticut State University)

Winner: Sarah Selden for "Harlem Renaissance or Momentary Aberration?: An Analysis of the Newbery’s Progress toward Racial Inclusivity", sponsored by Carl F. Miller (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

Honor: Katie Buhler for "Justice for All? Quilting a Literary Analysis of A Wreath for Emmett Till", sponsored by Anne Phillips (Kansas State University)

Honor: Emily Hunsaker for "A Keyword in Children’s Literature: Global Warming", sponored by Anastasia Ulanowicz (University of Florida)

Winner: Savannah Winkler for “Anchor, Compass, and Sail: The Black Panther Party in African-American Children’s/Adolescent Fiction”, sponsored by Anne Phillips (Kansas State University) 

Honor: Nathalie Gedeon for “Let’s Rebuild Our Home!”: Children’s Literature and Contemporary Haitian Trauma”, sponsored by Carl F. Miller (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

Winner: Rachel Sakrisson for “The Giving Trees: Elsa Beskow, Ecocriticism, and the Benevolent Forest,” sponsored by Carl F. Miller (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

Honor: Shelby LeClair for “Serious Matters: How Humor Functions in Young Adult Literature about the Holocaust”, sponsored by Sarah Minslow (UNC Charlotte)

Winner: Mia Utterback for "The Other Identities: David Levithan and Queer Representation in Young Adult Literature," sponsored by Kara Keeling (Christopher Newport University)

Honor: Emily Allen for “A dem fine woman': Visual Representation of Beautiful Evil in Narnia,” sponsored by Anne Phillips (Kansas State University)

Winner: Andrea Quinn for "'The Machine is us': Ready Player One and the Limits of Binarism," sponsored by Katharine Slater (Rowan University)

Honor: Arnaldo Garcia for "The Myth of a Country's Name: Eduardo Bähr and Honduran Children's Literature," sponsored by Carl F. Miller (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

Winner: Alexandra Cathcart for "A Racialized Menagerie: Unpacking Race in Marc Brown's Arthur Series," sponsored by Courtney Weikle-Mills (University of Pittsburgh)

Honor: Claire Werkiser for "Visibility Invisibility: Socialization, Bodily Inscription, and Ideology in The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing," sponsored by Anna Redcay (University of Pittsburgh)

Winner:  Samuel Kim for “Spaces for Sendak,” sponsored by Elizabeth Hoiem (East Carolina University)

Honor: Alice Sudlow for “Spoken Like a True Adult: Non-Adolescent Narration in The Book Thief and Postcards from No-Man’s Land,” sponsored by Megan Isaac (Elon University) 

Winner: Elissa Meyers for "A Magic Made of Stories: Fantastic Empowerment in the Works of E. Nesbit," sponsored by Teya Rosenberg (Texas State University - San Marcos)

Honor: Katie Abbott for “Bilbo Beyond Gender: The Trans-Gender Took,” sponsored by Mary Lenard (University of Wisconsin, Parkside)

Winner: Joanna Persson for “Take it to the Porch: Meeting The Other in To Kill a Mockingbird," sponsored by Amy Sonheim (Ouachita Baptist University)

Winner: Melissa Filbeck for "The Big Tease: Richardson's Pamela and Meyer's Twilight as Abstinence Porn," sponsored by Jackie Stallcup (University of California—Northridge).

Honor: Beth Feagan for "Repression and Return: The Uncanny in Bloor's Books," sponsored by Chris McGee (Longwood University)

Winner: Melissa Filbeck for “It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Representations of Mothers in the Harry Potter Series,” sponsored by Ranita Chatterjee (University of California – Northridge)

Honor: Cara Walter for “These Things I Know for Certain: How List-Making Functions as a Turning Point in Young Adult Literature,” sponsored by Kara Keeling (Christopher Newport University)

Winner: Erica Wnek for “The Transformation of the School Story: from Allegory to Individuality,” sponsored by Michael Joseph (Rutgers University Libraries)

Winner: Paige Carlson for “Harry Panoptic: The Boy Who Saw,” sponsored by Lori Campbell (University of Pittsburgh)
Honor Essay: Lesley Lindstedt for “The Importance of Being Coraline,” sponsored by Michelle Martin (Clemson University)

Winner: Carolyn Blythe Giles for “Perpetuating Inequality through Special Education in Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key,” sponsored by Marah Gubar (University of Pittsburgh)

Winner: Katherine M. Adams for “’The Man of the Island’: Benn Gunn as the Native in Treasure Island,” sponsored by Beverly Lyon Clark (Wheaton College)

Winner: Sara Regehr Neufeld for “Children’s Literature as Colonization: A ‘Much Lesser’ of Two Evils,” sponsored by Perry Nodelman (University of Winnipeg)

Winner: Danielle Monsonis for “Revenge vs. Approval: Conflicting Desires in The Cat in the Hat and Where the Wild Things Are,” sponsored by Lisa Rowe Fraustino (Eastern Connecticut State University)

Honor: Tameika Rease for “Inside the Mind of a Refugee Child,” sponsored by Meena Khorana (Morgan State University)

Winner: Erin Delaney for “Masculine and Feminine Resistance in A Handful of Stars, The Year of Impossible Goodbyes, and Forgotten Fire,” sponsored by Jackie Stallcup (California State University, Northridge)

Honor: Joey Weber for “Lost in the Screentext: Cinematic Narratives, Styles, and Presentation in Holes and Weetzie Bat,” sponsored by June Cummins (San Diego State University)

Winner: Bonnie Margay Burke for “Big Pitchers Have Little Ears: Challenging Adult Participation in the Silencing of Children,” sponsored by Mary Galbraith (San Diego State University)

Winner: Catherine Keyser for “Resurrecting the Witch: Rehabilitating the Maternal in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” Sponsored by Marah Gubar (Princeton University - now at University of Pittsburgh)

Winner: Patricia McCauley for “Nineteenth-Century Readings of Little Women,” sponsored by Troy Boone (University of Pittsburgh)

Winner: Kristy Quinn for “Her Wicked, Wicked Ways: Dismantling the Grimm World of Gender in The Magic Circle

Winner: Lucy Norton for “Seeing Is Believing: Magic Realism and Visual Narrative in Margaret Mahy’s The Changeover," sponsored by Claudia Nelson (Southwest Texas State University – now at Texas A&M University)

Note: 1998 is the inception year for the Carol Gay Award being given to an outstanding undergraduate paper. Previously the award was an essay contest for high school students.