Wednesday, January 28, 2009


NCTE has announced the 2009 Orbis Pictus winners. I tend to look forward to this list each year for a variety of reasons. As a reader of children's books, I gravitate to picture books and fiction novels.

At our Cover to Cover visit on Monday, Bill from Literate Lives pointed out a few books that I purchased. Bill is a history guy so he notices books that I don't. He pointed out several nonfiction books that I hadn't paid attention to before. Once I took a few minutes to look at them, I realized that I needed them for the library.

The Orbis Pictus Award was one of the first ways I started to pay attention to nonfiction. And I have ALWAYS been impressed by the selections. At the NCTE Annual Convention where some of the Orbis Pictus winners are awarded and highlighted each year, I am always struck by how many more great nonfiction books are being published for kids.

I am struck by the difference in "nonfiction" and nonfiction children's literature. So many books in classrooms, libraries, and bookstores are so encyclopedia-like. So many "sets" of books that are such poor quality in terms of interest, layout and readability. So many that have the feel of textbooks. I think in elementary schools, if we can begin to replace those types of books with good, quality nonfiction for children, it would be a huge service to kids. Imagine how many biography readers we'd have if they had access to great picture book biographies all the time. The Orbis Pictus has always helped me to think through the kinds of nonfiction kids choose to read outside of school. That, to me, is a clue as to the kinds of nonfiction we should have in school!

I don't know many books on this year's Orbis Pictus list. I haven't even heard of the actual winner, AMELIA EARHART, THE LEGEND OF THE LOST AVIATOR but I do love some of the other books that received honors or recommendations--WE ARE THE SHIP,A RIVER OF WORDS, SISTERS AND BROTHERS. GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER.

I love ALA's award day. It is so fun to predict winners, to listen to others thoughts, to try to read the year's winner, etc. But there are so many other awards that are given that really help me select good books for kids. The Orbis Pictus Award is one that over the years, has really helped me add nonfiction children's literature to my reading life.


  1. I appreciate all of the links to awards and notable books that you provide. Like you, picture books have a certain place in my heart as a father, teacher and reader.

  2. Franki,
    People should look at the CYBILS nonfiction lists. We had some amazing books for older kids, and I'm sure the younger kids ones were just as good.

  3. Carol,
    The CYBILS nonfiction list was great--I LOVE the CYBILS. Thanks for reminding people of that list again too.


  4. Hi Franki,

    I write for younger readers than most of the non-fiction books on your site, but I wonder if any your readers might be interested in responding to my request for some feedback about my books. My site is and I’m constructing it so that I can be in better contact with both my readers and teachers who use my books.

    Thanks for considering this request.

    All best,



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