Terms and criteria

(Robert F.) Sibert Informational Book Award

Terms

The Sibert Award is presented annually to the author, author/illustrator, co-authors, or author and illustrator named on the title page of the most distinguished informational book for children published in the United States in English during the preceding year.

Terms include:

  • Folktales and other tradition literature are not eligible.  There are no other limitations as to the character of the book providing it is an original work. 
  • Honor books may be named.  They are books that are also truly distinguished.
  • The award is restricted to authors, author/illustrator, co-authors, or author and illustrator named on the title page who are citizens or residents of the United States. ALL authors and illustrators credited on the title page must meet award eligibility criteria.
  • The award is restricted to original work first published in the United States.
  • The committee is to consider in its deliberations only books eligible for the award as specified in the terms.
  • The award may be given posthumously.

Definitions

Informational books are defined as those written and illustrated to present, organize, and interpret documentable, factual material.

Significant contribution is gauged by how well the work elucidates, clarifies and enlivens its subject.  The committee considers overall accuracy, documentation, organization, visual material and book design. 

Children’s literature is defined as the body of books published for an intended and potential child audience.  Such books display respect for children’s understanding, abilities, and appreciation.  Children range from birth through age fourteen.  Books for the entire range are to be considered.

Distinguished is defined as noted for significant achievement; marked by quality, excellence, or eminence; distinctive.

Author and Illustrator may include co-authors or author-illustrators.  Illustrator may include persons credited on the title page for visual material. ALL authors and illustrators credited on the title page must meet award eligibility criteria.

Original work is defined as follows:

  • "Original work" means that the text (or illustrations and other graphic material, as applicable) was created by this writer or artist and no one else.
  • Further, "original work" means that the text is presented here for the first time and has not been previously published elsewhere in this or any other form.  Substantial contents compiled from other sources are not eligible.  Abridgements are not eligible.

First published in the United States means that books first published in previous years in other countries are not eligible. Books published simultaneously in the U.S. and another country may be eligible. Books published in a U.S. territory, or U.S. commonwealth are eligible.

In English means that the committee considers only books written and published in English. This requirement DOES NOT limit the use of words or phrases in another language where appropriate in context.

Published in the preceding year means that the book has a publication date in that year, was available for purchase in that year, and has a copyright date no later than that year. A book might have a copyright date prior to the year under consideration but, for various reasons, was not published until the year under consideration. If a book is published prior to its year of copyright as stated in the book, it shall be considered in its year of copyright as stated in the book. The intent of the definition is that every book be eligible for consideration, but that no book be considered in more than one year.

Resident is defined as someone who has established and maintains a residence in the United States, U.S. territory, or U.S. commonwealth as distinct from being a casual or occasional visitor.

The phrase only the books eligible for the award specifies that the committee is to consider only eligible books, not an author’s body of work or previous accolades. 


Criteria

In identifying the most distinguished informational book for children from the preceding year, committee members consider important elements and qualities:

  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive use of language.
  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive visual presentation.
  • Appropriate organization and documentation.
  • Clear, accurate, and stimulating presentation of facts, concepts, and ideas. 
  • Appropriate style of presentation for subject and for intended audience.
  • Supportive features (index, table of contents, maps, timelines, etc).
  • Respectful and of interest to children.

Not every book relies equally on every element.  The committee need not find excellence in every element listed above but only in those relevant to the book.

The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media for enjoyment.

The Sibert Award is presented to honor distinguished informational books for children.  The award is not presented for didactic intent or for popularity.

[Adopted by the ALSC Board, January 2000; Revised January 2002; January 2004; January 2005; Annual 2008.]