The children's book council of Australia and the judging of literary excellence

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Since its inauguration in 1945, the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBC)has recorded its process with an attention to detail that derives from the professionalpractices of its members, most of whom are librarians or teachers, and froma desire to construct its own historical importance. Its Book of the Year Awardremains the only literary award with a significant impact on Australian booksales. However, the conversation within the Children's Book Council about thejudging process has been the subject of increasing protest, but not of research ordetailed examination. This is due to restrictions placed on access to its recordsuntil 2008 and to the CBC's naturalization of its criteria, formerly widespreadin the field of literary aesthetics, as described by Bourdieu in The Rules of Art.Modeled on the Newbery Medal in the United States(US) and the UnitedKingdom's (UK) Carnegie Medal, the Children's Book Council of Australia Bookof the Year Award was intended both to encourage children to read 'literature ofquality' and publishers to produce 'worthwhile literature for children.' Statedin the CBC's constitution, those aims proved to be not entirely compatible, sincemany of the books that children consider 'worthwhile''and which make publishingcommercially viable'are ruled ineligible.This article results from research into those records of the CBC that are nowpublicly available. It compares the criteria used for the Australian award and itsUS and UK models and places them in the context of the organization's concernwith its own cultural capital.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-35
Number of pages16
JournalThe New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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