Call for judges of the 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adult

1 OCTOBER 2020

The organisers of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are calling for expressions of interest from members of the children’s literature community who may like to be considered as judges of the 2021 awards.

Applications are now open to all those with suitable qualifications and experience, and will close on 30 October. A total of five judges will be appointed for the English language categories and will begin their reading in mid-December. The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award, for books entirely written in te reo Māori, is judged by a separate panel appointed by Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body representing Māori within the Library and Information profession in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Nicola Legat, chair of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, which governs the awards, says the Trust welcomes expressions of interest from both the children’s literature community and members of the public with relevant experience. “Our past panels have included authors, publishers, academics, reviewers, critics, bloggers, booksellers, teachers and librarians. It’s a big commitment but over the years our judges have told us how rewarding they have found it. After all, what could be more satisfying than becoming deeply involved in assessing the best New Zealand books of the year for young readers and celebrating the importance of books and reading?”.

Convenor of the 2020 judges, poet, writer and bookseller Jane Arthur, says of the experience, “Being a judge involves taking an intensive, deep dive into one full year of local children’s literature, and coming up for air a few months later with sharpened skills in critiquing and articulating what makes the best books great – and why others might miss the mark. It’s a truly terrific, enriching experience and I can’t recommend it more.”

The English language judges will deliberate over what is expected to be at least 150 entries in five categories: Junior Fiction (the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award), Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction (the Elsie Locke Award), Picture Book and Illustration (the Russell Clark Award).  They will select up to five finalists in each, and also up to five Best First Book finalists, then a winner in each category.

The call for entries in the 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will go out to publishers on 18 November 2020. Finalists will be announced in early June 2021, and the awards ceremony is planned for early to mid-August in Wellington.

Expressions of interest forms and background information on the judging process and judges’ responsibilities can be downloaded from the New Zealand Book Awards Trust website or supplied on request by emailing Applications must be submitted by 5pm on Friday 30 October, and should include a brief resume demonstrating the applicant’s experience for the judging role. The judging panel will be selected by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, which comprises industry stakeholder representatives.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, Wright Family Foundation, LIANZA, Wellington City Council and Nielsen Book.


Link to more information on NZ Book Awards Trust website:



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