Category Description: Fiction Picture Books

Colorful. Beautiful. Funny. Poignant. Amazing. Pick your word. These are the stories – with and without words – that can capture our hearts and mind, whether we are two or 92! Fiction Picture Books are a show and tell art form. They introduce young readers to their worlds, present and past; take us on fantastic journeys, real and imagined; offer us ideas on being our best selves, and inspire us to do great things. The best among them become lifelong treasures … the first books we choose for our children’s libraries.

We know that over the past year, you have found the book your toddler wanted to hear every day, the story where your first grader had to wear the same clothes as the main character, or the book so powerful you both sobbed at the end. We can’t wait to hear about them! One of the joys for fiction picture book judges is sharing your joy, rediscovering books we have loved ourselves, and learning about treasures we may have missed.

What makes a great Fiction Picture Book nomination? A book that excels in story, illustration, kid appeal, and literary value. Every year you give us many of books that fit that very tall order! Here are additional technical guidelines to help you understand what makes a book eligible in the Fiction Picture Books category.

  • written for a young audience (generally 2 to 9);
  • a limited page count, generally less than 100 pages, and a close picture-to-text ratio;
  • Narrative alphabet and counting books [Think: Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom, not Richard Scarry’s Cars & Trucks from A to Z];
  • published between October 16, 2016 and October 15, 2017.

Fiction Picture Book Category Exclusions:

  • No eBooks, iBooks, or Book Apps.
  • No spiral bound, pop-up /lift-the-flap, workbooks, or activity books.
  • Board books [this is a separate category]

Have a re-illustrated children’s classic that you love? Fairy tales and folktales should be nominated in EMSF and Nursery Rhymes belong in Poetry. If half of your favorite picture book is narrative nonfiction, then definitely nominate it in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

—Deb Nance