Most children’s book authors are familiar with the Newbery Award, which is, as I’ve written in another post, very friendly to historical fiction. But there’s another award in children’s literature that is less well-known but definitely more interesting to historical writers. The Scott O’Dell Award, named for the author of the Newbery-winning Island of the Blue Dolphins, is given annually to the best work of historical fiction for children. And in addition to its specific focus, there are several things that make this award unique.
First of all, an author actually has to apply in order to win the Scott O’Dell Award. This may not seem that unusual, but consider all the other major awards given out in the children’s publishing world. A committee selects the winners from all of the eligible books published in a given year; authors don’t need to do anything for their work to be considered. This submission requirement may be part of why the award isn’t very well-known: since authors have to submit their books, the pool of eligible titles is presumably a lot smaller.
Second, the Scott O’Dell Award comes with a cash prize—the only award in children’s literature (at least to my knowledge) that does so. It’s true that winning any major award will help boost sales, but if you win this one, you’ll also receive a check for $5000. While I don’t know the exact rationale behind the cash prize, I’ll say that it’s definitely another incentive for you to submit your book for the award if it’s eligible.
Are you familiar with the Scott O’Dell Award? What do you think about these features that make it unique?
Melissa L. is the YA Editorial Assistant for Wonders and Marvels. You can read more about her here: Editorial Staff.