The world of children's literature contains a variety of genres, all of which have appeal to the diverse interests of children as well as potential for classroom teaching. In recent years, however, nonfiction or information books have emerged as a very attractive, exciting, and popular genre. NCTE, through the Committee on the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, has established an annual award for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children. The name Orbis Pictus, commemorates the work of Johannes Amos Comenius, Orbis Pictus—The World in Pictures (1657), considered to be the first book actually planned for children.
The award is presented by the Orbis Pictus Committee Chair during the Books for Children Luncheon at the NCTE Annual Convention each year. Although only one title is singled out for the award, up to five Honor Books are also recognized.
Each nomination should meet the following literary criteria:
- Accuracy—facts current and complete, balance of fact and theory, varying point of view, stereotypes avoided, author's qualifications adequate, appropriate scope, authenticity of detail
- Organization—logical development, clear sequence, interrelationships indicated, patterns provided (general-to-specific, simple-to-complex, etc.)
- Design—attractive, readable, illustrations complement text, placement of illustrative material appropriate and complementary, appropriate media, format, type
- Style—writing is interesting, stimulating, reveals author's enthusiasm for subject; curiosity and wonder encouraged, appropriate terminology, rich language
In addition, each nomination should be useful in classroom teaching grades K-8, should encourage thinking and more reading, model exemplary expository writing and research skills, share interesting and timely subject matter, and appeal to a wide range of ages.
Do you have a love for children's literature? Some extra time on your hands? Volunteer to be a member of the Orbis Pictus Committee today!
Read more about how Orbis Pictus Award-winning books are created and chosen in the NCTE book The Best in Children's Nonfiction: Reading, Writing, and Teaching Orbis Pictus Award Books by Myra Zarnowski, Richard M. Kerper, and Julie M. Jensen. This book looks at the first ten years of NCTE's award for excellence in children's nonfiction and offers readers a fascinating glimpse into the world of children's nonfiction.