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Orbis Pictus Award facts for kids

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Orbis Pictus Award
Presented by National Council of Teachers of English
Country United States
First awarded 1990

The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children recognizes books which demonstrate excellence in the "writing of nonfiction for children." It is awarded annually by the National Council of Teachers of English to one American book published the previous year. 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. 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".
  • 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.
  • 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."


Orbis Pictus Award winners
Year Title Writer Illustrator
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 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 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 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
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

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

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