The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The winner(s), recognized for their literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading, receives a bronze medal. Honor Book authors and illustrators receive certificates, which are presented at the ALA Annual Conference. The award was established in 2004 and first presented in 2006.
The award is named for the world-renowned children’s author, Theodor Geisel. "A person’s a person no matter how small," Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, would say. "Children want the same things we want: to laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted." Brilliant and playful, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped them to read.
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.
Please visit http://www.ala.org/alsc/aboutalsc/coms (scroll down to Priority Group - Awards) for an up to date list of committee members.
- Geisel Award Manual (Word)
- Geisel Award Manual (PDF)
- Policy for Service on ALSC Award Committees
- Frequently asked questions regarding policy for service
- Awards Diversity and Inclusion Discussion with Kathleen T. Horning- This discussion took place at the 2015 ALA conference in San Francisco with Kathleen Horning and the 2016 Chairs of the ALSC Awards and Notable Children's Lists Committees.
Please Note: The following links are resources for book award committee members. These recordings are part of the Bill Morris Seminar that took place at ALA Midwinter in Denver 2018.
- Book Discussion 101 (Session video is approximately 58 minutes)
The Search for Distinguished Committee Work and Responsibility (Session video is approximately 53 minutes)
ALSC Awards Committee Experiences (Session video is approximately 77 minutes)
How to submit books for consideration for the Geisel Award:
- Complete the award submission form.
- Review the terms and criteria for the award. You can also review the manual for comprehensive information about the Geisel Award.
- Mail one copy of the book to the award committee chair. Address information available upon completion of submission form (see first bullet above).
- The deadline for submitting works is December 31, 2023.
- ALSC membership is not a requirement to submit your work.
- If you wish, you may attach a cover letter with your contact information to your final work. There is no entry fee for the Geisel Award.
The ALSC office is only requesting for one copy to be sent to the committee chair. Standards are in place for the committee members to review and share submissions. If you are submitting for multiple awards, only one copy needs to be sent to the ALSC office.
Neither the ALSC office nor the committee chair can confirm receipt of submissions. If you would like to confirm delivery receipt of your submission please use a tracking number for your package. Submissions that are dropped off in-person to the ALSC office will not be accepted.
The ALSC office cannot answer eligibility questions or advise on which award your submission is eligible for. It is up to you to review the terms and criteria and if you feel you qualify, submit as appropriate. Eligibility is determined by the committee and is confidential.
The book and media awards are announced each year at ALA’s LibLearnX meeting in January.
Deadline for submitting books is December 31 of the publication year.