Friday, August 19, 2016

The Cybils Awards by Jennifer Rumberger

In the next week or so, a call for judges for the 2016 Cybils Awards will be announced. The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards are an annual event for all of us. Whether you nominate a book, apply to be a judge, tweet or blog about the books everyone can participate.

In 2013, I was chosen to be a first round judge for the Middle Grade Fiction category. While it was exciting to be chosen, it required lots of work. Over the span of a couple of months, my group of judges was required to read around 100 middle grade books that were nominated. (It definitely helped if you had read some of the books already!) We kept lists and chatted together and slowly narrowed the books down to our top five. That’s when our job ended. The second round judges then took those five books and picked the winner.

So what did a book need to have to be in the top five? Not only did it need to be well-written but it also needed to appeal to the children or young adult audience. Not an easy task. Many books were high on the literary merit scale and many definitely appealed to kids. But finding books that meshed the two ingredients, only a handful.

If you blog regularly, which can be as little as once a month, I encourage you to submit an application to be a judge. 15 different categories existed last year from poetry to easy readers to non-fiction to fiction young adult. The time spent with your fellow judges (albeit cyber time) can be a valuable tool in your own writing process as you learn what works and what doesn’t to make a book successful.

And if you aren’t a blogger, there’s plenty for you too. The nominations lists for all categories are a great way to find new books to read. And the lists of finalists are a must read for the genre in which you write.

For more information about the Cybils Awards, visit their website

Jennifer Rumberger is a wife and mom of two very active boys. She is an administrative assistant during the day and a children's writer in her free time. She has been published in a handful of children's magazines and her picture book, DUCKLINGS ON THE MOVE, is available from MeeGenius/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

See the 2015 Cybils Award winners here.

Coming up on the Mitten blog: Back to School with MFA Week. Yes, it's finally here - 7 days of posts packed with everything you've ever wanted to know about getting your MFA. The fun starts next Friday - see you then!

Kristin Lenz


  1. Wow! That's a lot of books to read. I remember getting super excited when I nominated Jennifer Nielsen's THE FALSE PRINCE and it won.

    1. That's is exciting, because your name showed as being the nominator!

  2. Wow! That's a lot of books to read. I remember getting super excited when I nominated Jennifer Nielsen's THE FALSE PRINCE and it won.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. I've never heard of the Cybil's but I'm going to check it out.

  4. Nice write-up Jennifer. It's good to understand how these different awards are distributed.

  5. Nice behind the scenes look, Jennifer. Would you judge again?