Saturday September 22 5:01 pm

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Judy Blume, Neil deGrasse Tyson To Receive 2018 Sandburg Awards Oct. 9

10/09/2018 - 17:30
10/09/2018 - 23:00

Poet and novelist Erika Sánchez will receive the 2018 21st Century Award, which honors significant recent achievements in writing by an author with ties to Chicago. Sánchez earned tremendous acclaim for her 2017 poetry collection, “Lessons on Expulsion,” and her young adult novel, “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

“It would be difficult to choose two other authors whose works have had such far-reaching impact,” said Chicago Public Library Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin. “Almost every girl growing up since the 1970s has had her life changed by the works of Judy Blume, and Dr. Tyson has brought complex scientific information to a massive world-wide audience—making it both fun and understandable.”

“Erika Sánchez published two very different books in 2017, and was immediately recognized as an author with a fresh, exciting voice,” added Chicago Public Library Commissioner & CEO Brian Bannon. “Her debut novel for young people was widely acclaimed as a funny, candid look at growing up Latina. We are thrilled to join in the celebration of this remarkable Chicago talent.”

About the Carl Sandburg Literary Award and Dinner

The prestigious Carl Sandburg Literary Award recognizes the work of the world’s most heralded authors. Past winners include Margaret Atwood, Dave Eggers, Erik Larson, Scott Turow, Alice Walker, Stephen Sondheim, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mavis Staples, Larry McMurtry, Michael Lewis, Isabel Allende, Don DeLillo, Walter Isaacson, Roger Ebert, Toni Morrison, David McCullough, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, David Mamet, Nikki Giovanni, Tom Wolfe, and Salman Rushdie.

Produced in partnership by Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner is an annual fundraising event that generates crucial support for responsive and innovative learning initiatives accessible in the Library’s 80 neighborhood branches. Legendary Chicago newscaster Bill Kurtis serves as host, and the evening’s highlight is always the intimate onstage conversation with the two Sandburg Award honorees moderated by best-selling author and National Public Radio host Scott Simon. An acclaimed author with ties to Chicago is also seated at each table, making the evening even more unique.

More than 800 guests attended the 2017 Sandburg Award Dinner, raising a record-breaking $1.9 million for the Chicago Public Library Foundation to support exceptional programs and services at the Library, such as CyberNavigators; One Book, One Chicago; Summer Learning Challenge; Teacher in the Library; and YOUmedia.

The 2018 Sandburg Award Dinner will be chaired by Charles Matthews and Michelle Rindt, executive leaders of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, and Marcus Wedner of CIVC Partners. Library Foundation board member Donna La Pietra will produce the evening’s festivities. This year’s dinner will also pay tribute to Library Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin, who retires in April after 14 years leading the organization.

Sponsorship packages for tables of eight guests and a Chicago author are currently available at the $100,000; $50,000; $25,000; $15,000; and $12,500 levels. Individual tickets are available for $1,000 and $2,500. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, tables, or a sponsorship, contact Samantha Courter at (312) 201-9830 x25 or

BMO Harris Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2018 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner.

About the Honorees

Judy Blume is one of America’s most beloved authors and one of its most vigilant and committed anti-censorship activists. Her 29 titles include “Blubber,” “Tiger Eyes,” “Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret” and a five-book series about the irrepressible “Fudge.” She has dared to address the taboos of puberty and nascent sexuality and has been a funny and knowing voice for children and adolescents—particularly for girls and young women—for five decades. Over that time, her work has also broadened to encompass the experiences of adult women and men. Her 1978’s bestselling novel, “Wifey,” plunged into the vertigo of the sexual revolution and her latest, “In the Unlikely Event,” is set in the early 1950s in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Blume’s books have sold more than 85 million copies in 32 languages, and area a touchstone for countless readers, many of whom were inspired, as grownups, to write their own books. In 2009, the National Coalition Against Censorship honored and paid tribute to Blume’s longstanding defense of free speech. She was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2004 and the Library of Congress’ Living Legends award in 2000. In 2017, the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded her the E. B. White Award for achievement in children’s literature.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist, author, and science communicator-extraordinaire. He has written 13 books including his memoir, “The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist,” and “Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution,” which was co-written with Donald Goldsmith and is the companion book to the PBS-NOVA 4-part mini-series “Origins,” in which Tyson served as on-camera host. Other books include the playful and informative New York Times bestseller, “Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries”; “The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet,” chronicling Tyson’s experience at the center of the controversy over Pluto's planetary status; and “Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier.” His most recent book, released in 2017, is “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” which also climbed to the top of the New York Times best-seller list.

Tyson is the head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. He has twice served on presidential commissions. A popular, Emmy-nominated television personality, he is the recipient of 20 honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a civilian. His contributions to a public appreciation of the cosmos were recognized by the International Astronomical Union by the official naming of asteroid 13123, “Tyson.”

Erika L. Sánchez grew up in the Mexican-American working-class town of Cicero, Illinois, which borders the city’s southwest side. A poet, novelist, and essayist currently living in Chicago, she is the author of the poetry collection “Lessons on Expulsion,” and her debut young adult novel, “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers and earned a nomination for the National Book Award. She is a 2017-2019 Princeton Arts Fellow.

About Us

Established in 1986, the Chicago Public Library Foundation is an independent nonprofit dedicated to leveraging private donor support for Chicago Public Library's most responsive and innovative programs, its acquisition of new technologies, and the development of its collections. In deep partnership with Library leaders, this infusion of resources has helped to launch and sustain crucial programs and services that benefit Chicagoans of all ages living and working in the city’s 77 neighborhoods. In the past 30 years, the Library Foundation has directed more than $100 million in support to Chicago Public Library. The Library Foundation is governed by a board of 46 committed civic and business leaders, chaired by Bob Wislow of CBRE Chicago.

Since 1873, Chicago Public Library has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens, and adults. The Library received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; was named the first ever winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s Founder’s Award in recognition of its Summer Learning Challenge; and was ranked number one in the U.S., and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany.