About the CBCA Book of the Year
The annual CBCA Book of the Year Awards affirm the quality of some of Australia’s most creative people and provides a boost to their capacity to devote time to their craft.
Established with the first awards in 1946, the annual CBCA Book of the Year Awards aim to:
- promote quality literature for young Australians
- support and encourage a wide range of Australian writers and illustrators of children’s books
- celebrate contributions to Australian children’s literature.
History of the Awards
Since 1945 the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) has grown from a small Sydney-based group to a national organisation which exerts a profound influence on children’s books. The advocacy role played by the CBCA promotes the literary experience for children and assures the scope and vitality of books for children. The annual CBCA Book of the Year Awards affirm the quality of some of Australia’s most creative people and provide a boost to their capacity to devote time to their craft. Throughout the life of the Awards, a number of valued sponsors assisted with funding the monetary prizes. However, in the financial climate of the 1990s it became increasingly difficult to attract sponsorship.
In its golden anniversary year the CBCA 1995 Annual General Meeting in Brisbane adopted a proposal to establish an Awards Foundation (AF). Margaret Hamilton (former National President) and June Smith (former National Vice-President), who presented the proposal, were appointed managers of the CBCA Awards Foundation and heads of the National CBCA Awards Foundation Committee. This national committee was made up of representatives from all Branches of the CBCA and reported to the National Council. The one million dollar goal of this committee was realised in 2006. The future and independence of the Awards are now secure but diligent financial management and growth of the capital investment with further donations are vital, to ensure their ongoing viability.
Prizes for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards are funded from the interest earned by the investments of the CBCA Awards Foundation. None of the principal is used for any purpose other than investment to earn the highest return. The Committee of Responsible Persons (Awards CRP) decides how much of the available interest will be divided amongst recipients of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards.
Read more about our awards foundation here.
Printed books are assessed primarily for outstanding literary merit, including cohesiveness in significant literary elements; language chosen for its appropriateness to the theme and style of the work with proper regard to the aesthetic qualities of language; and originality in the treatment of literary elements as they apply to the form of the work.
The Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards are for books with an implied readership under the age of eighteen.
There are five categories in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards:
CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers
Entries in this category are for outstanding books for young people aged between 13 and 18 years (secondary school level). Readers require a degree of maturity to appreciate the themes and scope of emotional involvement. Books in this category may be fiction, drama, illustrated text, poetry or graphic novels. Judging takes into account the literary qualities of the text, editing and book production.
CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers
Entries in this category are for outstanding books published for children in the age range from 8 to 12 years (Primary school level). Books may be fiction, drama, graphic novels, illustrated text or poetry. Judging takes into account the literary qualities of the text, editing and book production.
CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood
Entries in this category are for outstanding books suitable in content and style for pre and beginning readers (Pre school and infants level). These include works of fiction, poetry, wordless, board and concept books. The illustration/s reflect/s all the text on the page and often do not add extra meaning to the storyline. The font size and style, rhythm and meter of the text are important. Clear design, layout and editing are also important.
CBCA Picture Book of the Year
Entries in this category should be outstanding books of the genre in which the text and illustrations achieve artistic and literary unity and the story, theme or concept is enhanced and unified through the illustrations. Picture Books can be for any age. A picture book can be written and illustrated by a sole creator or a collaborative effort between two or more creators. The text and illustrations work cohesively. The illustrations are an integral part of, or extend the action on the page. The illustrations are either as important as the text or more important and can be enjoyed separately from the text. Illustrator/s that have taken an existing piece of work and produced new illustrations that enhance that text can only be entered in this category.
The Eve Pownall Award for Information Books
Entries in this category should be books which have the prime purpose of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. Books are judged on the balance and harmony of language style and presentation, graphic excellence, clarity, appropriateness and aesthetic appeal of illustrations, and the overall design of the book. Referencing of sources are important, as are inclusion of a contents page, index, bibliography and glossary which enhance the reader’s experience. Autobiographies and biographies are entered in this category. Age range for this category is 0 to 18 years.