David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award

The David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award was established in 2022 to recognize excellence in Canadian children’s and youth poetry. The award honours David Booth, former Professor Emeritus in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), who passed away in December 2018. The biennial award is a cash prize of $3,500 and is sponsored by David’s colleague and dear friend Shelley Stagg Peterson.

David had over 60 years of experience in the education field—as classroom teacher, consultant, professor, researcher, speaker and author. In addition to authoring teacher reference books and textbooks, he also wrote children’s poetry and was a champion for using poetry in the classroom.

“Poets are wordsmiths, spending their lives choosing, bending, shaping, teasing, playing with words. The sounds of language fascinate them so. Poets write words that make your ears sing.” —David Booth, Til All the Stars Have Fallen: Canadian Poems for Children (Kids Can Press, 1989)

To contribute to the David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry fund, click here.

Criteria and Submission Information

The David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award honours excellence in children’s and youth poetry. The celebration of diversity is an equally significant element to achieving excellence. A work of excellence in Canadian children’s literature should also be successful in making people feel a sense of belonging in their communities.

Overall criteria:

  • This biennial award honours excellence in youth poetry in the following forms: rhyming board books and picture books, poetry collections, novels in verse.
  • Poetry using strong, engaging language that is new and inventive; language that is evocative and evolving, reads well aloud and garners a sense of surprise and delight from the reader.
  • Poetry which invites readers to look at things in extraordinary ways; freshness of the idea alters the readers’ vision of the world.
  • Poetry which is striking, interesting and original.
  • Poetry with a youth-centred focus; it engages the targeted audience.
  • Presence of the three Rs: rhythm, read-again quality and risk (i.e., the poet’s words need to stretch the boundaries of language).
  • Elements of the story/poem(s) that draw upon or are inspired by real cultures, folklore and history should be done respectfully and authentically.

Rhyming Board Books and Picture Books

  • A rhyming board book or picture book that can only be told in verse.
  • Picture book rhyme needs to enhance the story; it is not there for rhyme’s sake and it does not detract from the story; language used goes beyond the obvious predictable word choices for rhymes.
  • Board book with a richness of rhythm and rhyme that lends itself to being read aloud.
  • Picture book that has a continuous narrative.
  • Seamless integration of text, illustration and design.

Poetry Collections

  • Collections which have a logical arrangement; non-themed collections should also have a sense of cohesion (i.e., a level of flow and interconnectedness between poems).
  • “Selected” or “collected” works must contain at least 50% new material, measured in pages of text. This percentage must be identified with the submission.
  • Poetry anthologies written by more than one author are not eligible.

Novels in Verse

  • A narrative told in poetic form.
  • A narrative that can only be written in verse, not prose.
  • Poetic form that enriches the story.
  • Writing that evokes imagery and emotions.

This is a biennial award. We are not accepting submissions in 2023. Submissions will open in 2024, at which time, our jurors will be considering books published between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023.

General Inquiries:

If you have any questions regarding eligibility or the award in general, please contact Meghan Howe at 416.975.0010 ext. 3 or meghan@bookcentre.ca.

Award Recipients

For the full list of finalists and winners, please click here.

Year Recipient
2022 Sheree Fitch. Summer Feet. Illustrated by Carolyn Fisher. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2020.