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NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children - Previous Revision

NCTE Orbis Pictus AwardThe 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. 


2012 Winning Titles

Balloons over BroadwayBalloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade

by Melissa Sweet
(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)



Honor Books

  • Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade Books)
  • Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons by Harold Holzer (Calkins Creek)
  • Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown, illulstrated by Julie Paschkis (Henry Holt and Company)
  • Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson (Candlewick Press)
  • The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore (Lee & Low Books Inc.)

Recommended Books

  • Billions of Years, Amazing Changes: The Story of Evolution 
    by Laurence Pringle, illustrated by Steve Jenkins (Boyds Mills Press)
  • Far from Shore: Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage 
    by Sophie Webb (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)
  • For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson 
    by Peggy Thomas, illustrated by Laura Jacques (Calkins Creek)
  • Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
    by Kadir Nelson (Balzer + Bray Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers)
  • Harry Houdini: The Legend of the World's Greatest Escape Artist 
    by Janice Weaver, illustrated by Chris Lane (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
  • Inkblot by Margaret Peot (Boyds Mills Press)
  • Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown and Company)
  • Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators by Jim Arnosky (Sterling) 



Nomination Procedures

Nominations for the 2013 Orbis Pictus Award must be received by December 31, 2012


Nominations of individual titles may come from the membership of NCTE and from the educational community at large. Any title of nonfiction of informational literature which has as its central purpose the sharing of information may be nominated. This includes biography, but excludes textbooks, historical fiction, folklore, or poetry. Books must have been published in the United States during the previous calendar year.


To nominate a book published in 2012 for the 2013 Orbis Pictus Award:  send a letter to the Orbis Pictus Committee Chair, Fran Wilson, NCTE, 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. The letter should include the author's name, book title, publisher, copyright date, and a short description of what you liked about the book.

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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