Posted on April 7, 2022 by Christopher Reichert


The Department of Bicultural Bilingual Studies (BBL) is once again calling for nominations for the 2022 Premio Campoy-Ada, a national award for children’s and young adult books in Spanish sponsored by the North American Academy of the Spanish Language (ANLE) and UTSA. The award was conceived in 2017 by both Professor Howard Smith of the BBL Department and award-winning authors and ANLE board members, Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy. Currently the award is overseen by Isabel Campoy and Professor and chair of the BBL Department, Patricia Sánchez.

“ANLE is honored by its association with UTSA and the goals the university has outlined for students and the community at large,” Campoy said.

The Premio Campoy-Ada is awarded every two years for children’s or young adult’s Spanish literature that is published within the U.S. and Puerto Rico in the last three years leading up to the nomination. Nominations are being accepted until December 31, 2022 with winners to be announced in February, 2023. Books will be reviewed by ten judges: five from ANLE and five from UTSA. Sánchez plans to include professors, a graduate student, an alumna, and a community member among the UTSA judges.

This year the competition has reduced selections to ten categories including children, youth, and young adult, non-fiction, biographies, and poetry. Also new for this year’s competition is a special section for graduate students studying children’s literature. Those students will adapt their favorite English book into Spanish and have the chance to submit their work. If all goes according to plan, Campoy and Sánchez hope that the winning adaptations might get picked up by a publisher.

From the beginning, Sánchez says, the goal behind the award was to celebrate the Spanish language.

“We want to promote the use of Spanish, the love of Spanish, and what better way than with children’s literature?” she said.

In many areas of the southwestern U.S., including San Antonio, she explained, generations of Spanish speakers were discouraged from speaking Spanish—sometimes violently—and the fear of retribution can linger in families even now.

“Spanish does not have the same prestige as English,” she said.

The Premio Campoy-Ada is one way to try and repair that damage. “If we create a space, an award, and an environment where we value Spanish, we respect Spanish, we give it prestige and importance, then kids will see that modeled,” Sánchez said.

Increasing the popularity of Spanish children’s literature also serves to encourage authors, illustrators, translators, and publishers that such literature is worth creating.

“We want these authors who already are writing some amazing stories for audiences in Spanish to continue that work, to be honored for the work that they’re doing,” Sánchez said.

She hopes the award can also inspire UTSA undergrads pursuing teacher certification, who she says will be encouraged to nominate books and invited to attend the awards ceremony. The award also represents UTSA’s commitment to its community and mission, Sánchez believes.

“It is definitely an opportunity for UTSA to shine, to really have actions behind becoming an R1 that also wants to thrive as a Hispanic Serving Institution,” she said. “We have faculty and students who are pursuing these research and praxis goals of being not just bilingual but multilingual…The world as it is today is a multilingual world and we should not operate in a monolingual vacuum.”

“The fact that Spanish is the second language most widely used in the world by native speakers, anyone speaking English and Spanish would be able to communicate with 80% of the population in the world. Latino children reading from an early age in Spanish will develop an appreciation for the greatness of the culture they have inherited as well as effective skills to succeed in an increasingly multilingual world,” - Isabel Campoy.

As with every other facet of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges and opportunities for Sánchez and the Premio Campoy-Ada. One such opportunity is the adoption of PDF copies for judges. In previous years, judges would need access to physical copies of every submitted book. Now the judges can access the texts digitally, reducing the expense to authors and publishers, and eliminating the need for judges to meet in person to make their determinations. Another opportunity is the hybrid awards ceremony. Originally, a necessary response to pandemic restrictions, Sánchez says the reaction was generally positive, as it allowed for the participation of those who couldn’t travel to San Antonio.

Sánchez has high hopes for the future of the Premio Campoy-Ada. One goal is to increase the ease of nominating a book by children and teachers by allowing submissions directly from their website.

“It’s a very easy submission,” Sánchez said, “it’s basically a short application with like ten questions that includes  ISBN number, name, publishing date, and then we need the PDF.”

In this way she hopes to increase community involvement rather than solely relying on publishers to provide nominations directly.

“We want it to be a joyful occasion to nominate a book that you love that’s in Spanish,” she said.

She also has plans for their website, adding details such as past winners, judges’ biographies, and ensuring that pictures of the books are included along with their authors, illustrators, and translators.

“We want it to be very human and engaging,” Sánchez said, “people made this great book that you’re enjoying. So that’s something that we’ve done differently than some other children’s book award websites to draw in our biggest consumers: the kids, the teachers, and the parents who read these books.”

Farther in the future, Sánchez would like to see a literacy day for kids to come to the downtown campus and participate in activities and listen to winning authors read their works. She would also love to eventually include a children-as-authors category, so local students could write and submit their own works. For now, these are dreams for another year; even so, Sánchez is thankful for the continued support from ANLE, the College of Education and Human Development, and the UTSA Libraries.

“I’ve seen really, really great support for this,” she said, “so I’m thankful that we can operate in this climate with this kind of support and can keep moving forward.”

For more information on the Premio Campoy-Ada, please visit the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies . Anyone interested in getting involved and helping promote the award can email .

— Christopher Reichert