Honor Books

Recommended Books

Award Details

Nomination Deadline:  October 15

Members of the Orbis Pictus Award Committee select the award recipient and up to five honor books annually. Although only one title is singled out for the award each year, up to five honor books are also recognized. Eight additional recommended books can be named.

Learn more about the Committee and apply to be a member.

Books must have been published and/or distributed in the United States during the calendar year. Nominations of individual books may come from publishers, NCTE membership, 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.

Nonfiction books are defined as those written, designed, and organized to interpret documentable, factual material for children. Books must be an original work.

The following are ineligible: traditional literature (e.g., folktales), poetry, and book reissues.

In identifying an “outstanding” book for children, the committee members will consider the following:

• Accuracy of presentation in both text and illustrative material, as well as appropriate documentation, avoidance of anthropomorphism and teleology, distinction between fact and theory, and balanced treatment.
• Organization of material (e.g., general to specific; specific to general) that contributes to clarity and accessibility.
• Style of writing that is engaging and is distinctive in its use of language.
• Style of illustration that is engaging, informative, and complements the text.
• Appropriateness of book design based on the topic or subject and with respect to the different age groups for which the topic or subject may be appropriate.
• Potential contribution to the K-8 curriculum.

The award is presented annually by the Chair of the Orbis Pictus Award Committee at the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon during the NCTE Annual Convention.

The award-winning author and/or illustrator receive a plaque and are the featured speaker(s) at the luncheon.

The honor book author(s) and/or illustrator(s) are recognized, receive a certificate, and are invited to present at a session following the luncheon.

Nominations must be submitted to the Award Committee by October 15. One copy of each book nominated should be sent to the committee members for examination. Advanced copies or galley proofs are acceptable and encouraged, especially for books published after October 15.

Contact bookawards@ncte.org for award committee member information to nominate a book.

Orbis Pictus Award seals are available to accompany winning books and their future printings. The seals serve to endorse the excellence of the books and distinguish them from among the thousands of books published each year. Seals are $.20 each and available in gold for winning books, silver for honor books, and bronze for recommended books.

To place an order, please call our customer service department toll-free at 1-877-369-6283.

Each year the Orbis Pictus committee presents a session at NCTE’s Annual Convention that shares resources and ideas for teaching with the current year’s award winners. Here are the materials from their 2018 session.

2018 Orbis Pictus Awards


2018 Winner

Grand Canyon
by Jason Chin
(Roaring Brook Press)


Honor Books:

  • Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix  by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee & Illustrated by Man One (Readers to Eaters)

  • Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion by Chris Barton & Illustrated by Victo Ngai (Millbrook Press)

  • Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers & Illustrated by Shawn Harris (Chronicle Books)

  • The Quilts of Gee’s Bend by Susan Goldman Rubin (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

  • The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane Books)

Recommended Books:

  • Danza! Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh (Dreamscape Media)

  • Fault Lines in the Constitution by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson (Peachtree Publishers)

  • If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams (Roaring Brook Press)

  • Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d  by Mary Losure (Candlewick Press)

  • Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s Upstart Island by  Loree Griffin Burns (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

  • Maya Lin: Thinking With Her Hands by Susan Goldman Rubin (Chronicle Books)

  • The Music of Life: Bartolomeo Cristofori & the Invention of the Piano by Elizabeth Rusch & Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

  • The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler (Candlewick Press)