Finding Winning Science Titles – Awards and Booklists

Finding good science books for kids isn’t hard, not if you know where to look. There are many outstanding lists published each year, as well as some lesser known awards that highlight excellent science books. Here are some gems you should consider looking to for guidance.

AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books - This award celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. Begun in 2005, the first prizes honored five authors and one illustrator with lifetime achievement awards for their lasting contribution to children’s science literature and illustration. The names on this list are standouts (Patricia Lauber, Seymour Simon, Jim Arnosky, etc.) and their books should be a part of any strong science collection.

The Green Earth Book Award – This award was created to “promote books that inspire a child to grow a deeper appreciation, respect and responsibility for his or her natural environment. Started in 2005, the award focuses on books that best raise awareness of the beauty of our natural world and the responsibility that we have to protect it.” If you are interested in titles for environmental science, you’ll get some good ideas here.

Science in Society Book Award – This award is given by the Canadian Science Writers Association each year to honor outstanding contributions to science writing. First awarded in 1994 to a single book, the Association began naming two winners in 2003, one for children’s books and one for youth books.

The Eva L. Gordon Award – No longer given, the list of award winners still provides a rich resource for finding excellent science books. First given in 1964, it was awarded to an author for a body of work that met these criteria:

  • Does the author open doors to new adventures?
  • Does the author develop good attitudes?
  • Does the author build understanding of interrelationships?
  • Does the author encourage children to make their own scientific observations?
  • Are the author’s writings accurate, readable, and have a quality of joyousness?
  • Do the author’s writings relate to many kinds of 20th century situations?

Past winners include Seymour Simon, Vicki Cobb, Bruce Hiscock, Gail Gibbons, Joanne Ryder and many other outstanding science writers.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award – While this isn’t strictly a science award, many of the honor books and medal winners are science-themed. Given annually since 2001, it is awarded to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in English during the preceding year. Informational books are defined as those written and illustrated to present, organize, and interpret documentable, factual material.

Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 – The granddaddy of all lists, it highlights the titles selected as outstanding children’s science books for young people. They are selected by a book review panel appointed by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), assembled in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC), and published in March each year.