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.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Books must be published between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021. Because this is a biennial award, the publication date timeframe is two years.
  • Eligible formats include rhyming board books and picture books, poetry collections and novels in verse.
  • Poetry anthologies written by more than one author are not eligible.
  • Both the author and illustrator (if applicable) must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. In the case of picture books, the prize will be split equally between the author and illustrator.
  • Books may be published in Canada or abroad.
  • Books must be first foreign or first Canadian editions. If the title is a “selected” or “collected” work, it must contain at least 50% new material, measured in pages of text. This percentage must be identified with the submission.
  • Books must be in English.
  • The submitted work should be aimed at young readers up to 18 years old.
  • Translations are eligible, provided the translator is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
  • Poetry based on recorded songs or the lyrics of recorded songs are not eligible.
  • Books written as part of a series or published in serial form will be judged as separate entries and must be able to ‘stand-alone’.
  • The award is only for books in the printed format, as distinct from digital (i.e., eBooks) and audio visual formats.
  • Books in manuscript form are not eligible.
  • All books must have an ISBN and be distributed in Canada.
  • Self-published books are eligible for submission provided they have a valid ISBN.

Publisher and creator expectations prior to submission:

  • Publishers agree to pay the $25 non-refundable submission fee per title per award.
  • If a book is shortlisted, the publisher, author and illustrator may be asked to participate in a series of events highlighting and promoting the shortlisted author and illustrator, in addition to the award celebration.
  • The CCBC is unable to assume the costs for travel and accommodation. It is our hope that publishers will assist the award winner(s) with providing the resources for attending the in-person awards ceremony (should we be able to hold an in-person event) or for creating an acceptance speech video of appropriate quality should the creator(s) be unable to attend an in-person event.
  • Publishers agree to prepare and encourage their authors and illustrators to participate in all reasonable publicity associated with the award: interviews, readings, appearances, etc.
  • Publishers agree to spend an appropriate sum on media advertising the winning book (i.e., whatever your advertising budget allows).

Submission Information:


There is a $25 non-refundable fee for each title submitted to each of the CCBC book awards. Therefore, if, for example, you have a title that is eligible for three of the awards and you would like it considered for all three awards, the submission fee for that particular title is $75 ($25 x 3). The fees will be used to offset administration costs, as well as costs associated with the presentation of the awards.

Submission fees are payable by cheque, credit card or online. If paying by cheque or credit card, please complete the submission fee form. To pay online, visit bookcentre.ca/submissionfees.

You are required to complete an online title submission form for each title being submitted. Please follow up by emailing a final PDF of each title* by the March 4, 2022 deadline to meghan@bookcentre.ca. If you are paying the submission fee(s) by cheque or credit card, please email the completed submission fee form as well. Upon receipt of the submission(s), you will be sent instructions for where to send the physical books, as well as the quantity required. Please do not send them to the CCBC’s main office. Our office remains closed during the pandemic.

New to the form this year is a question regarding accessible formats. While these formats are not a requirement for submitting to the CCBC book awards, we would very much appreciate it if you could let us know if the title(s) is available in an accessible format and if so, which format(s).

* With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are requesting that PDFs of final titles be emailed to meghan@bookcentre.ca when title submission forms are submitted. The PDFs are not to replace the physical books. The PDFs are not to replace the physical books. They are to be used in the event that publishers are experiencing any disruptions/delays with their distribution channels because of COVID-19.

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.