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Civil Rights Icon John Lewis is a National Book Award Finalist

by The Associated Press /
Image: Democratic Representative from Georgia John Lewis (C) speaks to supporters after Democratic House members held a sit-in
Democratic Representative from Georgia John Lewis (C) speaks to supporters after Democratic House members held a sit-in to demand a vote on gun restrictions in the U.S. Capital on 23 June 2016.JIM LO SCALZO / EPA

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Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights activist and longtime Georgia congressman, is now a National Book Award finalist.

The 76-year-old Lewis and co-authors Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell were nominated in the young people's literature category for the best-selling graphic memoir "March: Book Three," the final work in a trilogy about Lewis' years in the civil rights movement.

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John Lewis is pulled off a lunch counter stool in the 1960s in Nashville.Gannett/The Tennessean/File

Finalists announced Monday by the National Book Foundation, which presents the awards, also include such acclaimed children's writers as Kate DiCamillo ("Raymie Nightingale"), Kwame Alexander ("Booked") and Grace Lin ("When the Sea Turned to Silver"). The foundation released a longlist of 10 nominated books, to be followed over the next three days by longlists for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Judges in each category will narrow the lists to five, the results to be announced Oct. 13. Winners will be announced at a Manhattan dinner ceremony Nov. 16.

In a statement Monday, the foundation noted the diversity of the young people's literature list, which addresses "issues such as loneliness, first love, violence in the home, sexual identity, immigration, interracial dating, social activism, and the effects of war on children. Sports proved to be a recurring theme with baseball, basketball, baton twirling, and soccer appearing in four titles."

The other nominees were Anna-Marie McLemore's "When the Moon Was Ours," Sara Pennypacker's and Jon Klassen's "Pax," Jason Reynolds' "Ghost," Meg Medina's "Burn Baby Burn," Caren Stelson's "Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story" and Nicola Yoon's "The Sun is Also a Star."

Young people's literature judges, led by former National Book Award winner Katherine Paterson, chose from 326 books submitted by publishers.

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