New Voices Award on Hiatus

After twenty-two years of discovering and nurturing new talent such as Paula Yoo, Don Tate, Rita Lorraine Hubbard and many other wonderful authors, the Lee & Low New Voices writing contest for picture books by authors of color and Native nations is on a temporary hiatus in 2023. We remain ever committed to our mission to help diverse authors break into this industry. We will use this time to make improvements to the contest so we can continue to best serve debut authors in this ever-changing landscape of children’s publishing.

A heartfelt thanks to this incredible community of writers, educators, librarians, and readers for their continued support of the contests throughout these many years.

A follow-up announcement will come in 2024.

About the Award

The New Voices Award is given annually by children's book publisher Lee & Low Books for a children’s picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Indigenous/Native writer.

Established in 2000, the New Voices Award encourages writers of color and Indigenous/Native writers to submit their work to a publisher that takes pride in nurturing new talent. Past New Voices Award submissions we have published include The Blue Roses, winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People; Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, a Texas Bluebonnet Masterlist selection; and It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Honor. 

The New Voices Seal was redesigned in 2022 to commemorate our co-founder, Tom Low, who passed in 2020. Tom Low was a staunch supporter of new voices and conceived of the idea of of the New Voices Award as a way for Lee & Low to stay true to its roots of nurturing unpublished BIPOC authors.  

2022 Winner and Honor

Carren Jao of Los Angeles, California, is the winner of the company’s twenty-third annual New Voices Award. Her picture-book manuscript The Shape of Love paints a vibrant, evocative portrait of a mother staying connected to her family by sending treats and supplies back to the Philippines through the tradition of balikbayan boxes.

Tyla LaGoy from Eugene, Oregon, will receive the New Voices Award Honor for her picture-book manuscript SPEAK. With lush, poetic writing, the manuscript follows a child pushing through discomfort as they learn to speak a new language. The story is inspired by Tyla’s own experience learning her tribal language, Chinuk Wawa.

Read more about the 2022 winner and honor recipients.


  1. The contest is open to writers of color and Indigenous/Native writers who are residents of the United States and at least 18 years old at the time of entry, and who have not previously had a children’s picture book traditionally published.
  2. Participants remain eligible if they have published work in other venues and genres, including children’s magazines, middle-grade and young adult fiction or nonfiction, and adult fiction or nonfiction. Authors of self-published books are also eligible, but they should submit a new manuscript, not a project that has been previously self-published. Writers cannot have had a picture book traditionally published if they’re applying for the New Voices Award.
  3. Only unagented manuscripts will be considered.    
  4. Manuscripts previously submitted for this award or to LEE & LOW BOOKS’ general submissions will not be considered. 


  1. Manuscripts should address the needs of children of color and Native nations by providing stories with which they can identify and relate, and which promote a greater understanding of one another. Themes relating to non-traditional family structures, gender identity, or disabilities may also be included.  
  2. Submissions may be FICTION, NONFICTION, or POETRY for children ages 5 to 12. Only stories with human protagonists will be considered.
  3. Manuscripts should be no more than 1500 words in length and include the author's full name. They should be accompanied by a cover letter that includes the author’s name, address, phone number, email address, brief biographical note, relevant cultural and ethnic information, how the author heard about the award, and publication history, if any.
  4. Manuscripts should be typed double-spaced. If Tracked Changes were used, they must be accepted and turned off before submitting the file.
  5. Up to two submissions per entrant. Each submission should be submitted separately.  
  6. The manuscript you submit to the New Voices contest may not be submitted to other publishers, agents, mentorship contests, writing contests, or to LEE & LOW’s general submissions while under consideration for this award.
  7. LEE & LOW BOOKS is not responsible for late, lost, or incorrectly submitted manuscripts. Be sure you leave enough time to resubmit if technical difficulties occur.


The Award winner receives a cash prize of $2,000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first-time author. If an Honor Award winner is selected, they will receive a cash prize of $1,000.

Judges are a committee of Lee & Low employees across several departments, including editors from LEE & LOW BOOKS and TU BOOKS. The decision of the judges is final.

At least one Honor Award will be given each year, but LEE & LOW BOOKS reserves the right not to choose an Award winner. 

Questions and Tips

Check out the New Voices Award Winners & Honors Collection.

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2021 New Voices Award Winner
Maleeha Malik of Baltimore, Maryland is the winner of the company’s twenty-second annual New Voices Award.

2020 New Voices Award Winner
Vanessa Lewis of Hawthorne, California, is the winner of the company’s twenty-first annual New Voices Award.

2019 New Voices Award Winner
Belen Medina Cabot of San Francisco, California, is an honor winner of the company’s twentieth annual New Voices Award.

2018 New Voices Award Winner
SD Youngwolf of Moffat, Colorado is the winner of Lee & Low's 2018 New Voices Award.

2017 New Voices Award Winner
Maham Khwaja of West Hollywood, California is the winner of the company’s eighteenth annual New Voices Award.

2016 New Voices Award Winner
Roberto Peñas of Olathe, Kansas is the winner of Lee & Low Books' seventeenth annual New Voices Award writing contest.

2015 New Voices Award Winners
Lisa Brathwaite of Stone Mountain, Georgia is the winner of our sixteenth annual New Voices Award.

2014 New Voices Award Winner
Andrea J. Loney of Inglewood, California, is the winner of the company’s fifteenth annual New Voices Award.

2013 New Voices Award Winners
Sylvia Liu of Virginia Beach, Virginia is the winner of our fourteenth annual New Voices Award.

2012 New Voices Award Winners
Rita Lorraine Hubbard of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the winner of our thirteenth annual New Voices Award.

2011 New Voices Award Winners
Jennifer A. Torres of Stockton, California, is the winner of our twelfth annual New Voices Award.

2010 New Voices Award Winners
Jane Bahk of Alameda, California, is the winner of our eleventh annual New Voices Award.

2009 New Voices Award Winners
Tiare Williams Solorzano of Citrus Heights, California, is the Honor winner of our tenth annual New Voices Award.

2008 New Voices Award Winners
Hayan Charara of Houston, Texas, is the Honor winner of our ninth annual New Voices Award.

2007 New Voices Award Winners
Pamela M. Tuck of Boyertown, Pennsylvania, is the winner of our eighth annual New Voices Award.

2006 New Voices Award Winners
Glenda Armand Sheppard of West Covina, California, is winner of our seventh Annual New Voices Award

2005 New Voices Award Winners
Don Tate of Austin, Texas and Zetta Elliot of Baton Rouge, Louisiana have been chosen as our two Honor winners for the Sixth Annual New Voices Award.

2004 New Voices Award Winners
Carmen Bogan of Oakland, California, is the Honor winner of our fifth annual New Voices Award.

2003 New Voices Award Winners
Paula Yoo of Los Angeles, California, is the winner of our fourth annual New Voices Award.

2002 New Voices Award Winners
Adrienne Lorraine Bayton of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the winner of our third annual New Voices Honor Award.

2001 New Voices Award Winners
Patricia Smith of Tarrytown, New York, is the winner of our second annual New Voices Award.

2000 New Voices Award Winners
Linda Boyden of Pukalani, Hawaii, is the winner of our first annual New Voices Award.