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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 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. 

2013 Winning Titles

Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words

Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words

by Leda Schubert 

illustrated by Gérard DuBois

(Roaring Brook Press)


Honor Books

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard
by Loree Griffin Burns, photographs by Ellen Harasimonwicz (Henry Holt & Company)

Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
by Robert Byrd (Dial Books for Young Readers)

The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity
by Elizabeth Rusch (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

Those Rebels, John & Tom
by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edward Fotheringham (Scholastic)

We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March
by Cynthia Levinson (Peachtree Publishers)

Recommended Books

A Black Hole is NOT a Hole
by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, illustrated by Michael Carroll (Charlesbridge Publishing)

Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship
by Russell Freedman (Clarion Books)

The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician
by Gail Jarrow (Calkins Creek)

Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust
by Doreen Rappaport (Candlewick Press)

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery
by Sandra Markle (Millbrook Press)

Chuck Close: Face Book
by Chuck Close (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books
by Karen Leggett Abouraya, illustrated by Susan L. Roth (Dial Books for Young Readers)

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle
by Claire A. Nivola  (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 



Nomination Procedures

Nominations for the 2014 Orbis Pictus Award must be received by December 31, 2013


Nominations of individual titles may come from the membership of NCTE and from the educational community at large. 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, or poetry. Books must have been published in the United States during the previous calendar year.


To nominate a book published in 2013 for the 2014 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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