Christian Children’s Book Awards and 2015 Award Winners

Want to keep up with what’s happening in Christian publishing for children? Follow the awards given out within the industry each year!

Books announced as finalists and the winning titles provide an overall look at what’s happening with Christian children’s publishing and the specific attributes that make these top books stand out. Here’s a look at three major awards for Christian children’s books.

The Selah Awards

The Selah Awards are open industry wide and internationally to authors published by traditional and nontraditional houses during the previous year. Most of the entry fee amounts go toward scholarships to the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, North Carolina.

This year, with hundreds of books being submitted by authors and nearly 30 publishing houses, finalists were named in 14 categories—three of those devoted to children’s books. (And here at CCA we’re proud that two of our featured bloggers—Carol McAdams Moore and Crystal Bowman—made the finals!) Just this week, the Selah Award winners were announced, and they appear in bold in the lists below.

Dare U 2 Open This Book by Carol McAdams Moore (Zondervan)
Just Sayin’ by Carol McAdams Moore (Zondervan)
Our Daily Bread for Kids by Crystal Bowman and Teri McKinley (Discovery House)

Children’s Picture Books
God Is Always With You by Michelle Medlock Adams (Candy Cane Press)
If Jesus Walked Beside Me by Jill Roman Lord (Candy Cane Press)
What Is Thanksgiving? by Michelle Medlock Adams (Candy Cane Press)

Middle Grade Novels
Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper by Burton W. Cole (B&H)
Johanna’s Journey by Cindy Murray Hamblen (Ambassador International)
Speak No Evil by Mary L. Hamilton (HopeSprings Books)

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Christian Book Award

Books are entered by their publishers in this competition. Judging is done by panels of two retailers, two authors, and two experts related to the specific category. Books must include explicit Christian content, an overtly Christian message, and/or a distinctively Christian world view. Each category also has its own judging criteria.

The five top-scoring books in each category are announced as finalists, and the top scoring book receives the award for that category.

The children’s category includes fiction and nonfiction and all types of books—from board books to Bible storybooks to devotionals and everything in between—for preschool and elementary ages. It’s broad … and that makes it very hard to call one book the best.

These books were 2015 finalists in the children’s category. I wrote about the winning book here.

BibleAnimals101 Color & Sing Bible Stories by Stephen Elkins (Tyndale)
Goodnight, Ark! by Laura Sassi (Zondervan)
Love Letters from God by Glenys Nellist (Zondervan)
My Bible Animals Storybook by Dandi Daley Mackall (Tyndale)
One God, One Plan, One Life: A 365 Devotional by Max Lucado (Nelson)

Christian Retailing Best Awards

Sponsored by Christian Retailing magazine, the Best Awards recognize significant new books and new products in the Christian retail industry. Nominations must include clear Christian content, message or worldview. Books are to be judged on their impact, including their ability to
•    speak to people’s hearts and evoke emotion
•    open people’s minds to new ways of thinking
•    encourage and affirm Christ-like living

Voting takes place using an online ballot. Along with Christian retailers, others who work in the industry are invited to vote, including authors, publishers, literary agents, gift company employees and book packagers. For the first time this year, Christian retailers’ votes will be weighted to maximize their impact.

The Best Award winners will be announced during the International Christian Retailing Show in Orlando in late June. Finalists in the children’s categories are

Children’s Fiction
It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst (Zondervan)
The Knight and the Firefly by Amanda Jenkins, Daniel Fernandez, and Tara Reeves (B&H)
Whatever You Grow Up to Be by Karen Kingsbury (Zondervan)

Children’s Nonfiction
Donkey in the Living Room by Sarah Cunningham (B&H)
For Such a Time as This by Angie Smith (B&H)
More Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids by Rob Elliot (Baker)

Two Other Awards
Two other competitions include children’s books. They are the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Awards and the Illumination Awards.


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Is foster care for you? A Christian response.

I wonder if you’ve ever thought about whether foster care is something your family could do? Have a look at the following checklist:

Foster care suitability test #1:
- Are you more loving than other people?
- Have you a tough, but ever caring, heart?
- Is your family perfect?

One thing people often say to me when they find out I’m a foster carer is ‘Oh, I could never do what you’re doing!’ And, to be honest, I don’t really know how to respond. I feel like these people have popped me into the checklist above and given me grades I don’t deserve. I am not pathologically more loving than the next person, I like to think I’m tough but have realised I’m not, my heart gets tired of caring and my family is certainly not perfect!
And yet, I am a foster carer.

I’ll be blunt here: foster care can be tough. Although there are many rewards and blessings, it can also break your heart, stretch your compassion and resilience, mess with your head and confuddle (my daughter’s word) day to day life.
But is the hardship of a journey a reason not to embark? And what does being a follower of Christ have to say about our attitude to such an adventure?

For me, it is impossible to separate my being a foster carer, and thus my acceptance of the potential hard times that come with it, from my walk after Jesus. 1 Peter 2:21 says ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.’ (my emphasis). When we take a good hard look at the life of Jesus, right up to point where he gave up his spirit to death, we notice not just the miracles and celebration, but an intense suffering. And why did he suffer? For us. In all things he acted with consuming obedience to the will and purposes of God – and it was all in order to demonstrate God’s love for you and I.It makes me wonder; if this was Jesus’ approach to loving humanity, with no guarantee that we would return his love, ever acknowledge him as Lord, or accept the gift to become children of God (John 1:12) – surely it is a challenge to us, his disciples.

DSC_0238Jesus loved. He gave up his time, position, comfort, convenience and personal space. And he was willing, for our sake, to go to the cross because of God’s love. Suffering and love are so intertwined I cannot see the gospel without seeing the pain. But it is through this pain that freedom and healing is possible.
And so it is when we offer our hearts and homes to children in need.

So, is foster care for you and your family? If you’re willing to consider it, I’d recommend tossing any checklist that looks similar to the one above as far away as you can, and then prayerfully work your way through this alternative one:

Foster care suitability test #2:
- Do you feel the call of God on your lives to open your home to a child in need?
- Do you have, or are willing to acquire, the practical resources to take on the care of another child?
- Are you willing to be stretched, learn, adapt and seek support when needed? 

If you answered yes to all three, then maybe it’s time to look a little further and see if God might be inviting you to share in the sufferings of Christ (Romans 8:17) through the life changing adventure of foster care.



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The Sensitive Child: Encourage their Strengths

shy child

I was the child who cried when people looked at me funny or laughed when I did something cute. I blushed at the very thought of speaking aloud or performing in front of a crowd. As a preschooler, I couldn’t distinguish when people where making fun or admiring something I’d done. Maybe this sensitivity or shyness came from being a “mommy’s girl” but alas, it was how I was wired.

Being naturally introverted, I people-watched and intently observed human behavior and interactions wherever I went. That meant I didn’t speak much because I was busy watching from the outside. Being the third-party observer, I gained a sensitivity to my world and innate compassion for the underdogs in most situations (and still do to this day).

So, how did I process all that I observed? How did I come to interact more normally in an extroverted world? I honed my strengths:  my voice, performing arts, and writing. Of course, I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I was just trying to fit in amongst my peers by doing what I enjoyed.

My fifth grade teacher, Mr. Paul loved to make his students laugh. He had the funniest jokes and made us laugh every day. But, he noticed I didn’t laugh out loud. I was a silent, red-faced, shoulder-jerking, silent laugher. So, he called me out on it; told me I wouldn’t graduate to middle school unless I learned to laugh out loud by the end of the school year. That prodding helped me discover my unique voice.

Music and theater worked wonders for this sensitive child. I could express myself in music and theater enjoyed singing and acting in school performances. If I made a mistake, it wasn’t noticeable because I was surrounded by classmates. Yes, I’d get butterflies and blush a lot, but the more I participated in those performances, the braver I became until I could fully participate and sing solos by the end of high school.

Writing was always my favored way to process life. It’s like the world made more sense when I could read the emotions on the page. I could express every raw and private emotion in my journal without fear that I’d make someone angry and without an argument. It’s how I did my best thinking (and arguing, I suppose).

We all know sensitive people (child or adult). They’re the ones who sometimes have those knee-jerk, irrational reactions to what we would call a “normal” situation. While their reactions need work, realize discovering and encouraging their strengths will help them mature into confident, compassionate, and yes, appropriately sensitive adults.



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