The Muriel Becker Award for Literary Excellence
The Muriel Becker Award is the highest honor bestowed on a writer by the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English. It has been given annually since the 1980’s to a writer deemed by the Becker Award committee to be someone who reflects the best of positive ideals that inspire young readers to high achievement. This definition is extended to include writers whose body of works (fiction, nonfiction, poetry or drama) have touched young adult readers, and those whose careers are just beginning to be recognized as exceptional.
In the last decade alone, the Becker Award has been granted to writers of such esteem as Walter Dean Myers, Jon Scieszka, Gayle Forman, Matt de la Peña, Andrew Smith, Gordon Korman, Jeff Hirsch, Tamora Pierce and David Lubar. It is awarded at the organization’s annual spring conference at the campus of Montclair State University, where teachers from all over the state are invited to be inspired to bring books by writers such as these into their classroom and inspire a new generation of readers.
Muriel Becker was a guiding spirit and the voice of the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English for many years. As president for three terms, long-time coordinator of the annual student writing contest, editor or co-editor of FOCUS, grants writer, and behind-the-scenes producer of the annual STARS conference, she was a key person in almost every achievement of NJCTE.
Recent Muriel Becker Award Winners
2019: Ibi Zoboi
2018: Jason Reynolds
2017: Andrew Smith
2016: Matt de la Peña
2015: Greg Takoudes
2014: Jeff Hirsch
2013: Paul Janeczko
2012: Gayle Forman
2011: Walter Dean Myers
2010: Gordon Korman
2009: Tamora Pierce
2007: Jon Sciezska
2004: David Lubar
1998: Paula Danziger
1996(?): Judy Blume
1995(?): Tomie dePaola
1994(?): Jan Brett
Anyone with information about missing years' winning writers, please contact us through the links at the left. We certainly want to recognize authors who have been honored in the past, but recent boards have not always had information from our distant past... Thank you.
In 2005, our Executive Secretary, Muriel Becker, died after a long and courageous battle with cancer. At her request, no services were held.
Over the years, Muriel Becker had become the guiding spirit and the voice of the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English. She held an amazing variety of positions in our organization, some successively and many simultaneously. As president for three terms, long-time coordinator of the annual student writing contest, editor or co-editor of FOCUS, grants writer, behind-the-scenes producer of our yearly STARS conference, and Executive Secretary/Treasurer/Membership Chair, she was a key person in almost every achievement of NJCTE.
Most important, in all of her various roles, Muriel encouraged and inspired generations of students, future teachers and colleagues, consistently maintaining the highest standards of excellence for our profession. During her last year, despite ill health, she continued to provide an unmatchable model of commitment for all of us.
We miss her deeply—her humor, her energy, her enthusiasm—but her legacy will be with us always.
for the NJCTE Executive Board