Category Description: Board Books and Fiction Picture Books

Board Books

Just say the phrase “board book” and you’re bound to hear an “awww” or a “that’s so cute!” It happens in my house all the time (even with the teenager)! We share these books with our youngest readers to be. These are our child’s first stories – at playtime, before nap, and as bedtime stories. Opening a board book to uncover what’s inside is like magic to them … and the best ones are read over and over and over again, until we can recite them by heart. Board books also help us show infants and toddlers how books work. They are sized for their little hands with thicker pages to help them build fine motor skills and practice “reading” for themselves. They are built with a toddler’s wear-and-tear in mind.

Although board books are part of the Fiction Picture Books Category, they will be judged separately. Here are the eligibility requirements:

  • Written for children infant to two years old;
  • Cloth, vinyl, or paper construction [read: cardboard];
  • Have a short page count, with a close picture-to-text ratio; and
  • Sized for infants and toddlers to hold
  • Board books may contain interactive elements that are structurally integrated in the book. This includes devices such as flaps or moving parts. All multi-piece books – including those that carry a “Not suitable for children under 3” warning – are not eligible.
  • These are additional exclusions:
  • No board books previously published as a picture book;
  • No board books featuring / based on licensed characters;
  • No non-narrative ABC or counting books.
  • One additional distinction for the Board Book Category: in addition to the Cybils’ criteria for literary quality and kid appeal, board books will also be evaluated for durability.

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]

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 Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction 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, Category Chair