Now Read This! #Cybils2021 Needs You

general callAs we mentioned in our last post, what powers the CYBILS Awards is a passion to engage kids and teens with amazing books that have just the right balance of literary merit and kid appeal.

By extension, that means igniting the spark that creates a love of reading. Easy Readers and Early Chapter books are the stories that bring the joy of reading to the next generation. When kids find joy for themselves, it is pure magic.

… That sparkle in their eyes when they realize they are reading.

… That unbound enthusiasm when they discover something truly special to them (that they don’t think anyone else knows about).


EZ ER Judge CallIf you like short books with illustrations and humor, this is the category for you. No, not all books for new readers are LOL funny, but this category tends to have lots of books that attempt to tickle young funny bones. 

These are the books that not only start a young person’s journey to learning success but also sow the seeds of reading joy. Stilted or choppy sentences, complete predictability, and worn-out tropes won’t work. 

So here’s the thing. We need your help to find the books that create those moments for up-and-coming young readers. 

Who should apply?

Anyone who wants to help developing readers to become bookworms. Judges in this category not only recognize how critical it is that kids see themselves in the pages of these books, but they advocate for bringing greater awareness to them.

If you spend time with kids in the Kindergarten to third-grade age group this is definitely the category for you. Get those young readers involved! Remember: kid appeal IS one of our criteria. 

Easy Readers | Early Chapter Books by the Numbers.

Over the last three years (2018-2020), the Easy Reader part of the category has averaged 31 nominations/year. The average for Early Chapter Books is 61.

  • As a Round 1 panelist, you’ll have about 2.5 months to read roughly 100 books.
  • The detailed guidelines and expectations are here

Sounds like a lot, but because easy readers tend to be short (32-64 pages), they can be read and assessed pretty quickly. Early Chapter books *can* go up to 100 pages, but most don’t and they also have illustrations. Again, somewhat quick reads.

  • As a Round 2 judge, you will have about six weeks to read all of the finalists: 5-7 easy readers AND 5-7 early chapter books. 
  • You can find more specifics here

Bottom Line

If your superpower is getting kids excited about reading or you love watching the magic happen when a child realizes they are reading on their own, or both, this is the category for you. 

Want to know a secret? This is the category that hooked me on being part of the CYBILS Awards. I am passionate about literacy and positive reading experiences, so I took a chance to talk about books with other readers. It was inspiring and motivating … and 13 years later, it still is. 

I’ve been part of different categories over the years, but I have to say, if you are looking to dip your toe into what it’s like to be part of the CYBILS Award, this is a great “first-timer” category. 

Let 2021 be the year you apply to be a judge.