The Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature

Malka Penn Award seal

The Malka Penn Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding children’s book addressing human rights issues or themes such as discrimination, equity, poverty, justice, war, peace, slavery or freedom.

Named in honor of author Michele Palmer, who writes under the pseudonym Malka Penn, the award recognizes works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, or biography which are written for children from preschool to high school. Within these larger themes, the award committee is particularly eager to recognize stories about individuals – real or fictional, children or adults – who have been affected by social injustices, and who, by confronting them, have made a difference in their lives or the lives of others.

About Michele Palmer

Author Michele Palmer’s generous gift helped establish The Malka Penn Award. Ms. Palmer has written over a dozen books for children and adults under the pseudonym Malka Penn. Three of those books were children’s literature: The Miracle of the Potato Latkes, The Hanukkah Ghosts, and Ghosts and Golems. As an oral historian at UConn’s Center for Oral History, her most exciting project was co-director of “Witnesses to Nuremberg: An Oral History of the War Crimes Trials,” in conjunction with the opening of the Dodd Center in 1995. Ms. Palmer has also curated numerous art, book, and history exhibits at UConn and elsewhere. One of her exhibits at the Dodd Center – “After Anne Frank: Children’s Books About the Holocaust” – led to her establishing the Malka Penn Collection of Children’s Books on Human Rights in the Archives and Special Collections at The Dodd Center for Human Rights.

Award Details

The Malka Penn Award winner is announced at the annual Connecticut Children’s Book Fair and presented at an award ceremony each spring at The Dodd Center for Human Rights in Storrs, Connecticut. Award winners receive a bronze medallion and certificate, and are invited to deliver an address to UConn’s faculty, students, and wider community. A committee of UConn faculty, staff, and community members selects one award winner each year. In addition, up to ten additional books may be selected for special recognition and honor.


Any book for young children originally published in North America between September 1 and August 31 of the year of the award is eligible for consideration. For instance, books published between September 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019 were eligible for the 2019 award. The book may be a work of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, or biography aimed at children below the age of thirteen. Books must be published in a physical, print form. E-books are currently ineligible for consideration.

How to Submit

The deadline for submission is October 1. To submit a book for consideration, send five or more copies to:

Malka Penn Award Selection Committee
The Dodd Center for Human Rights
405 Babbidge Road, U-1205
Storrs, CT 06269-1205

Award Committee

Katharine Capshaw
Professor, English

Ellen Cavanaugh
Ph.D. Student, Curriculum & Instruction

Kristin Eshelman
Archivist, Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

Douglas Kaufman
Associate Professor, Curriculum & Instruction

Glenn Mitoma
Director, Dodd Human Rights Impact

Michele Palmer

Susan Raab
President, Raab Associates

Pegi Deitz Shea

Joan Weir
Ph.D. Student, Curriculum & Instruction