Written by A Guest Author November 9th, 2017

18 Awards for Children’s Books

By Anne E. Johnson

When you’re trying to sell copies of your book or sell your own merits as a writer, it doesn’t hurt if you can describe yourself as an “award-winning author.” One way to earn that label is to snag a prize for a book you’ve already had published. There are plenty of competitions out there for authors who write for children

Unlike most of the opportunities on Authors Publish, most of these contests charge to enter, mostly in terms of requiring that you submit print copies of your published book. Make sure to read through their full guidelines before submitting.

  1. The Gelett Burgess Award puts winning books on an annual list to be distributed to parents and educators. The committee’s choices favor “excellence in family-friendly books covering the broad expanse of a child’s existence, helping them grow: socially, emotionally, ethically, intellectually, and physically.”
  1. The Caldecott Medal is one of the most prestigious awards in illustration, awarded by the American Library Association (ALA) “to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.”
  1. The Children’s Book Council proudly claims that their Children’s Choice Book Awards are “the only national book awards program where the winners are selected by kids and teens of all ages.”
  1. The winner of the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award is selected by Vermont schoolchildren from grades 4-8.
  1. Members of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) are eligible for the Sid Fleischman Award, honoring a book specifically for its sense of humor.
  1. SCBWI also presents the annual Golden Kite Awards, for excellence in children’s literature in five categories: Young Reader and Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Non-fiction, Picture Book Text, and Picture Book Illustration.
  1. As diversity becomes an increasingly important element in children’s literature, the Coretta Scott King Awards bolster that movement, honoring outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.
  1. The great majority of writing awards are for books. However, SCBWI offers a rare chance for short-form writers to be honored with their Magazine Merit Award.
  1. Young readers in Illinois, from grades K-3, choose the winners of the Monarch Award.
  1. The purpose of the Moonbeam Awards is “to bring increased recognition to exemplary children’s books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading.”
  1. No question, the ALA’s Newbery Medal is the crown jewel of children’s literature awards. A middle-grade or YA novel sporting the Newbery insignia on its cover is a guaranteed classic.
  2. Social awareness in literature is rewarded by the Jane Addams Award, given for a book “that effectively promotes the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.”
  3. The Michael L. Printz Award, presented by the ALA, “honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit.”
  1. Indie writers take note! The Spark Award, for SCBWI members, is unusual for honoring a non-traditionally published book.
  1. Presented by the ALA, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal “honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”
  1. The Young Reader’s Choice Award is a regional honor for books nominated by children in the Pacific Northwest, from both America and Canada.
  1. The Charlotte Zolotow Award is a prize for the best text of a picture book.
  1. The Sibert Medal is given out annually by the Association of Library Service to Children. It is specifically for informational non-fiction books.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to try for more awards for writing or illustrating, for kids or for teens, there are plenty of places to throw your hat in the ring. Wikipedia has a long list of American Awards, including both national and regional opportunities.

Anne E. Johnson is a Brooklyn-based writer of fiction for both children and adults. Her published works include seven novels and nearly 100 short stories appearing in Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, FrostFire Worlds, and elsewhere. She also writes arts journalism, with a focus on music and theater.


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