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Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Terms and Criteria

Purpose: The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award recognizes the author(s) and illustrator(s) of a book for beginning readers who, through their literary and artistic achievements, demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading.

Criteria: The award shall be given annually to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature that encourages and supports the beginning reader published in English in the United States during the preceding year. There are no limitations as to the character of the book considered except that it will be original and function successfully as a book for beginning readers. Honor Books may be named. These shall be books that are also truly distinguished.

The Award is restricted to author(s) and illustrator(s) who are citizens or residents of the United States.

The committee in its deliberations is to consider only the books eligible for the award, as specified in the terms.

The "author(s) and illustrator(s)" may include co-authors and co-illustrators. The author(s) and illustrator(s) may be awarded the medal posthumously.

"Distinguished" is defined as: Marked by distinction: noted for significant achievement; Marked by excellence in quality; Marked by conspicuous excellence or eminence; Individually distinct; Providing a stimulating and successful reading experience for the beginning reader containing the kind of plot, sensibility, and rhythm that can carry a child along from start to finish.

"American children’s literature" means that books originally published in other countries are not eligible.

"Contribution to the body of children’s literature that encourages and supports the beginning reader" indicates the text of a book, which must be directed at readers from pre-K through Grade 2. The book must also contain illustrations, which function as keys or clues to the text. The committee shall consider all forms of writing—fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Reprints and compilations are not eligible.

Committee members need to consider the following criteria: Subject matter must be intriguing enough to motivate the child to read; The book may or may not include short "chapters"; New words should be added slowly enough to make learning them a positive experience; Words should be repeated to ensure knowledge retention.; Sentences must be simple and straightforward; There must be a minimum of 24 pages. Books may not be longer than 96 pages; The illustrations must demonstrate the story being told; The book creates a successful reading experience, from start to finish; The plot advances from one page to the next and creates a "page-turning" dynamic.

Number and Frequency of Award: One Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for one book will be announced in January of each year during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting to recognized author(s) and illustrator(s). The announcement of the first Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is January 2006, with the first award presented in 2006, and to continue every year thereafter. If a suitable candidate is not found for any given year, the award will not be presented that year.

Selection of Jury to Administer the Award: The President of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, will appoint the committee to administer the award. The first committee shall be appointed in fall 2004; and the first committee to sit in 2005. Membership shall be one chair and six members.

Deadline for Nomination of Candidates: The deadline for award entries is December 31. The committee will consider books for the award up to and including this date. The dates of the Midwinter Meeting may affect the date the nominations are due, but will be specified on a yearly basis.

Presentation of the Award: The award will be presented at the American Library Association Annual Conference.


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The terms and criteria for selecting ALSC's Theodor Seuss Geisel Award.