Established with the first awards in 1946, the annual CBCA Book of the Year Awards aim to:

  • promote quality literature for young Australians;
  • support and encourage a wide range of Australian writers and illustrators of children’s books and;
  • celebrate contributions to Australian children’s literature.

History of the Awards

Since 1945 the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) has grown from a small Sydney-based group to a national organisation which exerts a profound influence on children’s books. The advocacy role played by the CBCA promotes the literary experience for children and assures the scope and vitality of books for children. The annual CBCA Book of the Year Awards affirm the quality of some of Australia’s most creative people and provide a boost to their capacity to devote time to their craft. Throughout the life of the Awards, a number of valued sponsors assisted with funding the monetary prizes. However, in the financial climate of the 1990s it became increasingly difficult to attract sponsorship.

In its golden anniversary year the CBCA 1995 Annual General Meeting in Brisbane adopted a proposal to establish an Awards Foundation (AF). Margaret Hamilton (former National President) and June Smith (former National Vice-President), who presented the proposal, were appointed managers of the CBCA Awards Foundation and heads of the National CBCA Awards Foundation Committee. This national committee was made up of representatives from all Branches of the CBCA and reported to the National Council. The one million dollar goal of this committee was realised in 2006. The future and independence of the Awards are now secure but diligent financial management and growth of the capital investment with further donations are vital, to ensure their ongoing viability.

Prizes for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards are funded from the interest earned by the investments of the CBCA Awards Foundation. None of the principal is used for any purpose other than investment to earn the highest return. The Committee of Responsible Persons, in consultation with the CBCA National Board decides how the available interest will be divided amongst recipients of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards. Read more about our awards foundation.

In 2017 it was agreed that the Crichton Award, previously administered by the Victorian Branch would be incorporated into the National CBCA Book of the Year Awards. In 1985 Mr Wallace Raymond Crichton left a legacy to The Children's Book Council of Australia (Victorian Branch). The Branch decided to establish an award to recognise and encourage new talent in the field of Australian children's book illustration. It was first awarded in 1988 and each year's winner receives a certificate and a monetary reward.


The Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards are for books with an implied readership under the age of eighteen.

There are six categories in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards:

a. CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers.
Entries in this category should be for books for young people aged between 13 and 18 years (secondary school level). Readers require a degree of maturity to appreciate the themes and scope of emotional involvement. Books in this category may be fiction, drama, illustrated text, poetry or graphic novels.

b. CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers.
Entries in this category should be books published for children in the age range from 7 to 12 years (primary school level). Books in the category may be fiction, drama, graphic novels, illustrated text or poetry.

c. CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood.
Entries in this category should be books suitable in content and style for pre and beginning readers for children in the age range 0 to 6 years (pre-school and infants level). This include works of fiction, poetry, wordless, board and concept books. The illustrations reflect all the text on the page and often do not add extra meaning to the storyline.

d. CBCA Picture Book of the Year.
Entries in this category should be books of the genre in which the text and illustrations achieve artistic and literary unity and the story, theme or concept is enhanced and unified through the illustrations. A picture book can be written and illustrated by a sole creator or a collaborative effort between two or more creators. The text and illustrations work cohesively. The illustrations are an integral part of, or extend the meaning on the page. The age range for this category is 0 to 18 years

e. The Eve Pownall Award.
Entries in this category should be books with the prime purpose of documenting factual material. Consideration should be given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style. This includes works of non-fiction, autobiographies and biographies. This does not include activity books, text books or procedural texts. The age range for this category is 0 to 18 years.

f. Crichton Award.
Entries in this category are for books where the illustrator is emerging or new to the field of children’s book illustration. The entry must be the illustrator’s first illustrated book published by a trade publisher where illustrations form a significant part of the book’s narrative or information content. The age range for this category is 0 to18 years.

A book may be entered in more than one category, each category entered incurs the entry fee and needs to be accompanied by 5 copies of the book. An entered book will be judged only in the nominated category against the particular category criteria.