ILF Announces the Winner of the Russell Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World

The Russell Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World uplifts a first place book and an honor book for their exemplary work in the field of children’s nonfiction. Our judges read a wide range of submitted books, from picture books to novel-length young adult books and assessed them on their commitment to inspiring readers to make a better world.

The winner of the 2023/2024 cycle of the Russell Freedman Award is Daskha Slater’s Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed, published by Macmillan.

Congratulations, Dashka! This book exemplifies the very best of children’s nonfiction: it is bold, beautifully written, and more relevant than ever. Our judges were especially struck by Dashka’s commitment to exploring the nuances of racism among teenagers and adults alike. We couldn’t think of a more timely, important book than Accountable. 

Of her novel and the award, the author says, “"Accountable tells the stories of the kids who made, followed, and were targeted by a racist Instagram account at a small-town high school in California. It’s a story that I see repeated in high schools and middle schools across the country as students imitate hateful tropes they see online, with devastating results. My goal in writing it was to open up important conversations among young people about the origins and impacts of these tropes and their own relationships to social media. This seemed to align with the mission of the Russell Freedman Award and with Russell Freedman’s own approach — changing the world not by preaching but by giving young people access to the stories that illuminate the issues of our time.”

The finalists this year also included:

Always Matt: A Tribute To Matthew Shepard

Written by Lesléa Newman

Illustrated by Brian Britigan

Published by Abrams ComicArts

Smashing Stigma: Dismantling Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination 

Written by Connie Goldsmith

Published by Twenty-First Century Books, an Imprint of Lerner Books

The Twenty-One: The true story of the youth who sued the U.S. government

over climate change

Written by Elizabeth Rusch

Published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins

The Monkey Trial: John Scopes and the Battle Over Teaching Evolution

Written by Anita Sanchez

Published by Clarion Books/HarperCollins

Those Who Saw The Sun: African American Oral Histories From the Jim Crow


Written by Jaha Nailah Avery

Published by Levine Querido

We’re thrilled to continue supporting exceptional children’s nonfiction books with this award. The next cycle of the Russell Freedman Award will open in Autumn 2024.