Orbis Pictus Award

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Orbis Pictus Award
Awarded forExcellence in the writing of nonfiction for children
CountryUnited States
Presented byNational Council of Teachers of English
First awarded1990

The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children recognizes books which demonstrate excellence in the "writing of nonfiction for children."[1][2] It is awarded annually by the National Council of Teachers of English to one American book published the previous year.[3] Up to five titles may be designated as Honor Books. The award is named after the book considered to be the first picture book for children, Orbis Pictus (The World in Pictures), by John Amos Comenius, which was published in 1657.[4][5] The award has recognized one book annually without exception since it was inaugurated in 1990.


  • The book must be "nonfiction literature which has as its central purpose the sharing of information". Biographies are welcome, but not "textbooks, historical fiction, folklore, or poetry".[2][6]
  • The book must have been published during the previous calendar year in the United States.
  • The book must meet the literary criteria of accuracy, organization, design and style.[7][8]
  • Additionally, the book "should be useful in classroom teaching grades K-8, should encourage thinking and more reading, model exemplary expository writing and research skills, share interesting and timely subject matter, and appeal to a wide range of ages."[9]


Orbis Pictus Award winners
Year Title Writer Illustrator
2023 Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond Daniel Minter
2022 Nina: A Story of Nina Simone Traci N. Todd Christian Robinson
2021 Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball Jen Bryant Frank Morrison
2020 A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation Barry Wittenstein Jerry Pinkney
2019 Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery Sandra Neil Wallace Bryan Collier
2018 Grand Canyon Jason Chin Jason Chin
2017 Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White Melissa Sweet Melissa Sweet
2016 Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans Don Brown Don Brown
2015 The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia Candace Fleming
2014 A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin Jen Bryant Melissa Sweet
2013 Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words Leda Schubert Gérard DuBois
2012 Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade Melissa Sweet
2011 Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring Jan Greenberg and
Sandra Jordan
Brian Floca
2010 The Secret World of Walter Anderson Hester Bass E. B. Lewis
2009 Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator[10][11] Shelley Tanaka David Craig
2008 M.L.K.: Journey of a King Tonya Bolden
2007 Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea Sy Montgomery Nic Bishop (photos)
2006 Children of the Great Depression[12] Russell Freedman
2005 York's Adventures with Lewis and Clark: An African-American's Part in the Great Expedition Rhoda Blumberg
2004 An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 Jim Murphy
2003 When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson: The Voice of a Century Pam Muñoz Ryan[13] Brian Selznick
2002 Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850 Susan Campbell Bartoletti
2001 Hurry Freedom: African Americans in Gold Rush California Jerry Stanley
2000 Through My Eyes Ruby Bridges
1999 Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance  Jennifer Armstrong
1998 An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly Laurence Pringle Bob Marstall
1997 Leonardo da Vinci Diane Stanley[14]
1996 The Great Fire Jim Murphy
1995 Safari Beneath the Sea: The Wonder World of the North Pacific Coast Diane Swanson
1994 Across America on an Emigrant Train Jim Murphy
1993 Children in the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp Jerry Stanley
1992 Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh Robert Burleigh Mike Wimmer
1991 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Russell Freedman
1990 The Great Little Madison Jean Fritz

Multiple awards[edit]

Two writers and no distinct illustrators have won the Orbis Pictus Award more than once.

See also[edit]

 Children's literature portal


  1. ^ Cullinan, Bernice E. and Diane Goetz Person. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. New York: Continuum, 2001.
  2. ^ a b "Orbis Pictus Award (Nonfiction for Children)". National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  3. ^ Moss, Barbara. Exploring the Literature of Fact: Children's Nonfiction Trade Books in the Elementary Classroom: Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy. Guilford Publications, 2002.
  4. ^ "Award-Winning Books for Children". Reading Is Fundamental. Archived from the original on October 14, 2003. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  5. ^ "Bulletin board". Children's Literature Association Quarterly 15.4 (Winter 1990): 227.
  6. ^ "Awards Prizes and Organizations". Children's Literature Association Quarterly 19.2 (Summer 1994): 72-73.
  7. ^ Wilson, Sandip. "Getting Down to Facts in Children's Nonfiction Literature: A Case for the Importance of Sources". Journal of Children's Literature 32.1 (Spring 2006): 56-63.
  8. ^ "The Orbis Pictus Award" (PDF). jfklibrary.org. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  9. ^ Bamford, Rosemary and Janice V Kristo, editors. Making Facts Come Alive: Choosing Quality Nonfiction Literature K-8. Christopher-Gordon Publishers, 2003.
  10. ^ "The 2009 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for outstanding Nonfiction". Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews. March 19, 2009.
  11. ^ Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 62.8 (April 2009): 343–45. "Children's Book Awards 2009."
  12. ^ Dawes, Erika Thulin. 2006 Children's Literature Award Winners: Classroom Response Guide. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
  13. ^ http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/contributor.jsp?id=1605 |
  14. ^ "Biographies". www.dianestanley.com. Archived from the original on 1999-11-09.
  15. ^ "Jim Murphy". www.jimmurphybooks.com. Archived from the original on 2004-06-12.

External links[edit]