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The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization that acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people. The SCBWI has over 22,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regional chapters writing and illustrating in all genres for young readers from board books to young adult (YA) novels, making it the largest children's writing organization in the world.
The mission of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is to promote the appreciation of children’s books around the world by fostering a vibrant communit y of individuals who bring books for young readers to the public, including writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers, bl oggers, enthusiasts and others. SCBWI provides education and support for these individuals through their awards, grants, programs and events. They strive to increase the quality and quantity of children’s books in the marketplace, and act as a consolidated voice for professional writers and illustrators worldwide.
The organization began as the Society of Children's Book Writers in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles-based writers including President, Stephen Mooser and Executive Director, Lin Oliver. Authors Judy Blume and Jane Yolen sat on the original board and continue to be involved today. In October 1973 details were announced for the Golden Kite Award, the only children’s literary award judged by a jury of peers. Today, the awards are given annually to recognize excellence in children’s literature in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Book Text, and Picture Book Illustration. In March 1978, SCBW announces it will offer work-in-progress grants in memory of illustrator and board member Don Freeman. Today, nearly $25,000 in Work-in-Progress grants are given annually to SCBWI members. In 1991, illustrator and board member Tomie dePaola lobbied to officially include illustrators in organization and the name was changed to the current: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In 1993 Sue Alexander opens the first office in West Hills, California. In 1996, SCBWI launches its first website with the help of Bruce Balan. SCBWI holds its first conference outside the United States in Paris, France in 1999. In 1999, SCBWI adds an annual Winter International Conference in New York City. In 2010 SCBWI establishes the Crystal Kite Member’s Choice Awards to recognize great children’s literature in 15 regional divisions around the world.
The Bulletin The SCBWI Bulletin is a bi-monthly publication containing the current, comprehensive information about the field of children’s literature. Features include the latest marketing reports; articles on writing, illustrating, and publishing; contests and awards announcements; SCBWI member news; and ongoing SCBWI activities throughout the world.
The Publication Guide SCBWI also publishes and regularly updates the “Publication Guide” which is free to members and provides information and references to both published and unpublished writers and illustrators. Publications include specific information on publishers, agents, markets, educational programs, contracts, critique groups, and editorial services.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents several awards and grants to its members each year including:
Golden Kite Award: Grant cash prizes of $2,500 are given annually to recognize excellence in children’s literature in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Book Text, and Picture Book Illustration. Winning authors and illustrators receive an expense-paid trip to Los Angeles to attend the award ceremony at the Golden Kite Luncheon at SCBWI’s Summer Conference in August and a lifetime membership in SCBWI. A commemorative poster with the winners will be created and distributed to, among others, various schools, libraries and publishers.
Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards: Recognize great books from the 70 SCBWI regions around the world. Along with the SCBWI Golden Kite Awards, the Crystal Kite Awards are chosen by other children’s book writers and illustrators, making them the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers. Each member of SCBWI is allowed to vote for their favorite book from a nominated author in their region that was published in the previous calendar year.
Book Launch Award: The SCBWI Book Launch Award provides two annual awards of $2000 each for an author or illustrator to use for marketing a book scheduled for release during the next calendar year. The money can be used for any kind of promotional purpose that will increase sales and visibility of the book, such as launch events, speaking engagements, book tours, curriculum materials, advertising, book trailers, website development, or community events.
Magazine Merit Award: The SCBWI Magazine Merit Awards are presented annually for original magazine work for young people. Each year, the SCBWI presents four plaques, one in each category of fiction, nonfiction, illustration, and poetry, each year to honor members' outstanding original magazine work published during that year. The works chosen are those that exhibit excellence in writing and illustration, and genuinely appeal to the interests and concerns of young people. Honor Certificates in each category are also awarded.
Member of the Year: Goes to a member who has given outstanding service to the organization.
Portfolio Award: An award for best portfolio on display in the Juried Art Portfolio Display at the Annual SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. The winner of the Portfolio Award receives an expense-paid trip to New York to meet with interested art directors.
Sid Fleischman Award: An award for exemplary writing for children in the genre of humor. Sid Fleischman was the inaugural recipient of the SCBWI Humor Award, for his extensive body of work at the 32nd Annual SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles, in August 2003.
Sue Alexander Award: Given to the manuscript deemed most promising for publication at the Los Angeles Summer Conference. Critiquers nominate manuscripts during the Los Angeles conference. The winner receives an expense-paid trip to New York to meet with interested editors..
Tomie dePaola Award: Given annually to an illustrator of promise chosen by Tomie himself. The award consists of a $1,000 gift certificate for art supplies, plus full tuition, transportation and accommodations to the New York Winter Conference.
Work-in-Progress Grants: The SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grants are designed to assist children’s book writers in the completion of a specific project, and are underwritten by a grant from Amazon.com.
Grants for first place ($2000) and runner up ($500) are awarded in each one of seven different categories: • General Work-In-Progress grant • Grant for a contemporary novel for young people • Nonfiction research grant • Grant for work by an unpublished author • Grant for work from a multi-cultural/minority perspective • Barbara Karlin Grant for unpublished picture book writers. • Don Freeman Grant for unpublished picture book illustrators.
Amber Brown Grant: Named in honor of the late author and SCBWI supporter, Paula Danzinger, the Amber Brown Grants are given to underserved schools with the desire and commitment to enrich their curriculum with a visit from an author or illustrator. SCBWI provides an all-expense paid, full day visit by a well-respected children’s author or illustrator. The chosen school also receives a $250 stipend to assist in creating the event and $250 worth of books by the visiting author. One or two schools are chosen each year.
Tribute Fund: The SCBWI Tribute Fund commemorates members of the children’s book community, their lives and their work by funding scholarships to the SCBWI International Summer and Winter Conferences for the general membership.
Student Illustrator Scholarship: Each year 4 college students studying illustration are selected to attend the Summer and Winter conferences on a full scholarship.
The current board is made up of a host of prominent names in the field of children's literature including:
E.B. Lewis, Illustrator
Bonnie Bader, Editor-in-Chief of Grosset & Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan, two imprints of the Penguin Young Readers Group.
Walter Dean Myers, Author
Judy Blume, author
Linda Sue Park, author
Priscilla Burris, illustrator
Christopher Cheng, author and SCBWI Australia regional advisor
Bruce Coville, author
Jerry Pinkney, illustrator
Pat Cummings, author, illustrator and professor
Tomie dePaola, illustrator
David Díaz, illustrator
Melissa Stewart, author
James Cross Giblin, author
Lisa Yee, author
Jane Yolen, author
Cecilia Yung, art director at Penguin Young readers group
Ellen Hopkins, poet and author
Arthur A. Levine, author and Vice President at Scholastic
Tracy Barrett, Professor and Author
Cheryl Zach, Author
The SCBWI sponsors two annual International Conferences on Writing and Illustrating for Children. Each year the Summer Conference is held in Los Angeles and the Winter Conference is held in New York City. In addition, regional chapters around world host dozens of smaller conferences throughout the year. Regional chapters also host hundreds of smaller events throughout the year. These events range from those geared toward professional writer and/or illustrators to events for people just entering the field. Events such as KidLit nights, sketch crawls, open studio tours, critique groups, book launch parties, writer/illustrator retreats, book clubs, gallery shows, book signings and more occur around the world throughout the year. Each regional chapter is run by a volunteer called a Regional Advisor and often an advisory committee.
Associate Member: For anyone with an interest in children’s literature including agents, editors, librarians, teachers and authors and illustrators who are not yet published. Full Member: For published authors or illustrators (including self-published). Published and listed (PAL) Members: For authors or illustrators published by a traditional publishing house recognized by the SCBWI. Dues for all levels of membership are $85 for the first year and $70 per year following
As a unified body, the SCBWI acts as a powerful force to effect important changes within the field of children's literature, promoting new copyright legislation, equitable treatment of authors and artists, censorship and fair contract terms. There are currently more than 22,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regional chapters writing and illustrating in all genres for young readers from board books to young adult (YA) novels, making it the largest children's writing organization in the world.