New York City, May 17, 2011—PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, announced today the establishment of the PEN/Steven Kroll Award Honoring the Author of an Illustrated Children’s Book. The prize was established in memory of Steven Kroll to acknowledge the distinct literary contributions of picture book writers. Kroll, a former PEN Trustee and long-time Chair of PEN’s Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee, was also a prolific author of books for children. His 100th and final book will be published in March 2012. 

“Steven Kroll represented the spirit and calling of children’s literature and PEN: as an author of stories that reached so many children and adults, as a mentor to many other writers, and as an indefatigable champion of children’s literature,” said Steven Isenberg, PEN’s Executive Director. “Kroll was a member of PEN for more than 25 years, serving as Chair of the Children’s and Young Adult Book Authors Committee and on PEN’s Board of Trustees. This award recognizes the important role that writers of illustrated children’s books play in winning children’s allegiance and enjoyment. It will pay homage to Kroll’s generosity of spirit in serving PEN ably and devotedly for so many years, and to the children’s literature community he cherished, and of which he was such a proud and noted member.” 

“Steven was a devoted member of PEN and a passionate and outspoken advocate for the importance of children’s literature,” said Susanna Reich, author and current Chair of PEN’s Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee. “He knew from long experience that writing for children is both a challenge and a delight, and was extraordinarily generous in sharing the fruits of that experience with other writers. His books brought joy to millions of children, and though his voice will be missed, it’s very fitting that his memory will live on not only in those books, but in an award dedicated to the art of the picture book text.”

The annual award will be presented for the first time in 2012 and will confer a prize of $5,000. It will acknowledge an American or U.S.-based writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book. The winner will be chosen by a panel of three judges, who will be selected by PEN’s Awards Committee in consultation with PEN’s Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee, as well as the donor for the award, Kathleen Beckett, Kroll’s widow.

PEN will begin accepting nominations for this award from members of the literary community in October 2011. Eligible books will have been published in the U.S. in 2011. In October 2012, the winner will be announced to the press and recognized at PEN’s Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City.

The PEN Literary Awards are the most comprehensive in the United States. Each year, with the help of its partners and supporters, PEN confers more than $150,000 to writers, editors, and translators. More information about the PEN Awards can be found at

About PEN American Center
PEN American Center is the largest of the 145 centers of PEN International , the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. International PEN was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial tensions and to promote understanding among all countries. PEN American Center, founded a year later, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. Its 3,400 distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and advancement of human rights of such past members as James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Eugene O’Neill, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. To learn more about the PEN American Center, please visit:

Alena Graedon, 212-334-1660, ext. 108
Stefanie Simons, 212-334-1660, ext. 122