Orbis Pictus Award (Nonfiction for Children) - National Council of Teachers of English

Honor Books

Recommended Books

Award Details

Nomination Deadline: October 15

Members of the Orbis Pictus Award® Committee select the award recipient and up to five honor books annually. Although only one title is singled out for the award each year, up to five honor books are also recognized. Eight additional recommended books can be named.

Learn more about the Committee and apply to be a member.

Books must have been published or distributed in the United States or its territories during the preceding year. Please see submission information for details on how to submit books published in November or December of the calendar year. Any title of nonfiction literature which has as its central purpose the sharing of information may be nominated. This includes biography, but excludes textbooks, historical fiction, folklore, and poetry.

Nonfiction books are defined as those written, designed, and organized to interpret documentable, factual material for children. Books must be an original work.

The following are ineligible: poetry, adaptations of adult texts, and book reissues.

In identifying an “outstanding” book for children, the committee members will consider the following:

• Accuracy of presentation in both text and illustrative material, as well as appropriate documentation, avoidance of anthropomorphism and teleology, distinction between fact and theory, and balanced treatment.
• Organization of material (e.g., general to specific; specific to general) that contributes to clarity and accessibility.
• Style of writing that is engaging and distinctive in its use of language.
• Style of illustration that is engaging, informative, and complementary to the text.
• Appropriateness of book design based on the topic or subject and with respect to the different age groups for which the topic or subject may be appropriate.
• Potential contribution to the K-8 curriculum.

The award is presented annually by the Orbis Pictus Award® Committee at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon during the NCTE Annual Convention.

The award-winning author and/or illustrator receives a plaque and is the featured keynote speaker at the luncheon.

The Honor book author(s) and/or illustrator(s) are recognized, receive a certificate, and may be invited to present at a session following the luncheon.

Nominations must be submitted to the Award Committee by October 15.

We request early submission whenever possible to give the committee enough time to review all submissions. One copy of each nominated book  should be sent to the committee members for examination. Digital copies are welcome and can be emailed directly to the committee members. Advance copies or galley proofs are acceptable and encouraged, especially for books published in October due to their proximity to the deadline. Hard copies are still requested in addition to the digital versions so that the committee can fully evaluate each work. Books published in November or December have the option to be considered for the next Award cycle instead. Publishers or authors should contact NCTE as soon as possible to confirm submission details.

Contact bookawards@ncte.org with the title(s), author(s), and publication date(s) of the books you are nominating, as well as the award for which you would like to be considered. We will give you the award committee contact information to send the books to the members directly. No other forms are required. NCTE members should use the submission form on the Children’s Book Award homepage.

Orbis Pictus Award® seals are available to accompany winning books and their future printings. The seals serve to endorse the excellence of the books and distinguish them from among the thousands of books published each year.

Complimentary digital seals are available to the winning authors and their publishers. These are available in color or black and white. Please contact Sarah Miller, bookawards@ncte.org, to make this request.

Physical sticker seals can be purchased in our webstore. They are available in gold for winning books, silver for Honor books, and bronze for Recommended books.

The Orbis Pictus Award® Committee has gathered resources related to the 2018 award winning books to share with educators.

The Orbis Pictus Award® Committee has gathered resources related to the 2019 award winning books to share with educators.

The Orbis Pictus Award® Committee has gathered resources related to the 2021 award winning books to share with educators.

Many of the Orbis Pictus Award® Winner, Honor, and Recommended books are available in one place on Bookshop.org at NCTE’s shop. (NCTE and independent bookstores receive a small commission for purchases made through this link.)