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.
Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
illustrated by Brian Floca
(Roaring Brook Press)
- Birmingham Sunday by Larry Dane Brimner (Calkins Creek)
- Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot" by Michael O. Tunnell
- If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge by Mark Aronson
- Journey into the Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures by Rebecca L. Johnson
- Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age by Cheryl Bardoe
(Abrams Books for Young Readers).
- Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story by S.D. Nelson (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
- Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Little, Brown & Company)
- The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Suzy) by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic Press)
- For Good Measure by Ken Robbins (Roaring Brook Press)
- Henry Aaron's Dream by Matt Tavares (Candlewick Press)
- Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop (Houghton Mifflin)
- Polar Bears by Mark Newman (Henry Holt and Company)
- They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Houghton Mifflin).
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.
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