Illinois Center for the Book

Illinois Literary Heritage Award Illinois Center for the Book

The Illinois Literary Heritage Award was established by the Illinois Center for the Book in 1995, to recognize and acknowledge extraordinary contributions to our literary culture. Initially the award was issued solely to entities that had a connection to Illinois. In order to celebrate all significant aspects of our literary culture, we now welcome nominations of entities that have made a wider contribution to our literary history and heritage.

The Illinois Secretary of State's Office invites individuals, groups and organizations in Illinois to nominate significant literary entities for this award.

Eligible Nominees

Publishers, authors, libraries, special collections, and other entities that have enhanced literary culture through:

The Award

Nomination Process

  1. Send nomination to Illinois Center for the Book in writing; preferably six months in advance of the community event.
  2. The nomination must include:
    • A brief narrative that addresses the specific and overall significance of the literary entity.
    • Material supporting the significance of the literary contribution of the entity.
    • Detailed information about the accompanying community event.
    • A description of how the presentation of the award fits into the community event.
    • The names, contacts and roles of the key individuals in the nominating and partnering groups for the community event.


Year Award Recipients
2018 Elizabeth Berg, bestselling author, speaker and mentor. Founder of Writing Matters, a quality reading series dedicated to serving author, audience, and community.
2016 John Donvan, award-winning correspondent for ABC, and Caren Zucker, veteran television news producer. Coauthored the bestseller and 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism.
2015 John Lewis, congressman, civil rights icon, Andrew Aydin, author, and Nate Powell, illustrator. Collaborated on the acclaimed trilogy and civil-rights memoir, March.
2008 Ray Bradbury, Illinois author, poet, novelist and writer of television series, short stories, screenplays and radio drama.
2006 Louis "Studs" Terkel, Illinois author, historian, radio and television broadcast personality.
2000 Diana Haskell, Lloyd Lewis Curator of the Midwest Manuscripts at the Newberry Library in Chicago.
1999 Carus Publishing Company, Peru, Illinois for publishing numerous exceptional magazines for children.
1998 Cyrus Colter, Illinois author and educator.
1997 University of Illinois Press, Champaign, Illinois for the Prairie State Book Project.
1996 Angela Jackson, Illinois author, poet and playwright.
1995 John Knoepfle, Illinois poet and essayist.