Book awards are a way of recognising the best, the divergent and the most popular in contemporary literature. Many a favourite title came to our our attention as a result of winning an award. Award winners continue to provide us with insight into what is the rage in trend and genre, besides providing us with lists for ‘must haves’ to invest in for our shelves at school and for our private collection at home.
Below are links to some of the more reputable international awards.
United Kingdom awards
One of the oldest and most distinguished awards for children’s literature, the Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenway Medal are unique because the books are nominated by librarians who are constantly in contact with books and children. Patrick Ness, Sally Gardner and Neil Gaiman are some of the authors whose books have won Carnegie Medals while illustrators Levi Pinfold, Jim Kay and Grahame Baker-Smith are some recent recipients of the Kate Greenway Medal.
Renamed the Costa Book Awards, this was formerly known as the Whitbread Book Awards. Launched in 1971 this coveted award recognises the most pleasurable books written by authors based in the UK and Ireland.
This award is a window opportunity for new writers and their editors to be recognised for their contribution to literature for children aged seven and above.
Established in 2000 and gaining in popularity this award celebrates authors and illustrators. The Best Story and Best Book with Facts are the two categories for fiction and non-fiction.
Conferred upon the author of a fiction book written for children or young adults, this award sponsored by The Guardian newspaper can be won only once in the lifetime of the author.
Originally called The Children’s Book Award, this award has the distinction of being one of the few awards to be entirely voted for by children. The three categories are Books for Younger Children, Books for Younger Readers and Books for Older Readers.
This unique children’s book award was founded by Michael Rosen as a part of work as Children’s Laureate (2007-2009). This award is for those books that make you laugh when reading. The two categories are: Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under and Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen.
Sponsored by Travelling Books and launched by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, this award brings into prominence children’s poetry books. The most recent 2013 CLPE Poetry Award winner is In the Land of Giants by George Szirtes.
Publishers across the UK are provided with an opportunity to submit the best books that communicate science to young people up to the age of fourteen. The judging panel for the final winner comprises young people from schools and youth groups around the country.
United States Awards
Conferred annually by The Horn Book and The Boston Globe, this prestigious award is among the best in the field of children’s and young adult’s literature. The criterion is that the books must be published in the United States. The three featured categories are Picture Book, Fiction and Poetry, and Non-fiction.
Named after Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King Jr, this annual award is presented by the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table which is part of the American Library Association (ALA). The award is presented to an African American author and illustrator of books that reflect and acclaim African American culture and universal values.
The John Newbery Medal was the first award for children’s book in the world. Awarded annually by the American Library Association (ALA), these prize winning books bear the stamp of recognition for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.
This American literary prize is presented by the National Book Foundation. A panel of twenty judges selects book for four categories: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature.
Named in honour of the famous English illustrator Randolph J Caldecott, this award is presented annually by the American Library Association to the illustrator of the most distinguished picture book published the previous year.
This official award by the American Library Association is given to ten books written for adults that will appeal to readers between the ages of twelve and eighteen. The selection is made from books published the previous year.
This non-profit organisation is comprised of members who are enthusiastic about Australian children and young adult literature and its creators. The categories cover Older Readers, Younger Readers, Early Childhood, Picture Books and the Eve Pownall Award.
This award for distinguished illustration is presented for books suitable for children up to the age of twelve. The illustrator has to be a Canadian citizen or be a permanent resident of the country.
This annual award is presented to a Canadian author for any kind of creative writing published for children in Canada in the previous year. This would include fiction, poetry and non-fiction in any published format.
Presented annually at the Canadian Library Association conference, the award is presented to an author of a distinguished English language Canadian book for young adults. The book must be a work of fiction, published in Canada and written by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
This award is distinctly different because the titles are nominated and winners are selected by children, teachers, parents and librarians. The award is presented by the Pacific Northwest Library Association jointly in the US and Canada. The three categories are Junior Division, Intermediate Division and Senior Division.
Administered by the Swedish Art Council in honour of one of Sweden’s most important authors, this award presented annually is the largest international children’s and young adult award of the year. It can be presented to a single author or several authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters from any nation in the world.
This award comes from the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and is presented every two years to a living author and illustrator who has made a remarkable and continuous contribution to children’s literature.
Visit our events and organisations page for information about New Zealand book awards.
Further information about book awards
Books and authors link from EPIC