The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award goes to the most distinguished informational book published in the United States. To be honored/win the Sibert Award, the book must include these important elements and qualities:
Excellent, engaging, and distinctive use of language.
Excellent, engaging, and distinctive visual presentation.
Appropriate organization and documentation.
Clear, accurate, and stimulating presentation of facts, concepts, and ideas.
Appropriate style of presentation for subject and for intended audience.
Supportive features (index, table of contents, maps, timelines, etc).
Respectful and of interest to children.
In addition to the qualities above, you can find further criteria here. This is where things can get tricky. One of the criteria is that the author and illustrator must be a citizen of the United States or maintain a residence in the United States. Sadly, this usually rules out a couple of books each year.
Another important consideration is how the Sibert defines informational book. "Informational books are defined as those written and illustrated to present, organize, and interpret documentable, factual material."
A final consideration that I will highlight is how the Sibert defines "children's literature".
"Children’s literature is defined as the body of books published for an intended and potential child audience. Such books display respect for children’s understanding, abilities, and appreciation. Children range from birth through age fourteen. Books for the entire range are to be considered."
As an aside, this is NOT my Nonfiction Best Of list for the year. Check back later in December for my favorites of the year.
For this list, I looked back over the previous winners to see about any trends and to get a sense for what has been considered excellent nonfiction. I am a bit worried that I have no sense of what will win. Sometimes I think that despite having read over a 100 nonfiction titles this year that I missed the winner or haven’t read it yet. Given the 2017 year's winners were so different from the 2018 year’s winners, I am worried that what I am loving is not viewed the same by the committee. What I am hoping is that I have provided you with a list of fabulous books that you and your students will read and enjoy and compare them to the list of criteria. And hopefully we just might find a winner.
Are you ready? Here are my mock Sibert picks in no particular order...