Hans Christian Andersen Award

The Hans Christian Andersen Awards are two literary awards given the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), recognising one living author and one living illustrator for their "lasting contribution to children's literature".[1] The writing award was first given in 1956, the illustration award in 1966. The former is sometimes called the "Nobel Prize for children's literature".

Hans Christian Andersen Award
A golden medallion with an embossed image featuring a bust of Andersen.
Awarded forOutstanding and lasting contribution to children's literature
Presented byInternational Board on Books for Young People
First awarded1956; 65 years ago (1956)

The awards are named after Hans Christian Andersen, the 19th-century Danish author of fairy tales, and each winner receives the Hans Christian Andersen Medaille, a gold medal with the bust of Andersen, and a diploma. Medals are presented at the biennial IBBY Congress.


The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) was founded by Jella Lepman in the 1950s. The Hans Christian Anderson Award was first proposed in 1953 and awarded three years later, in 1956.[2] It was established in the aftermath of World War II to encourage development of high-quality children's books. The award was set to be given biennially and was initially awarded for individual works that had been published in the preceding two years.[3] By 1962 the award's formal criteria were amended "to a living author who is judged to have made a lasting contribution to good juvenile literature by the outstanding value of his or her work. The author's complete works, in particular those in fiction, will be taken into consideration in awarding the medal."[4]

Runners up were listed in 1960, 1962, and 1964. In reflection of what IBBY considered to be a trend of increasing quality in picture books,[4] the award was expanded to include illustrators in 1966.[2] From 1966 to 1996 runners up were named as "Highly Commended". In 1998 this was replaced with a list of three to four "Finalists".[4] It is sometimes called the "Little Nobel Prize" or the "Nobel Prize for children's literature" and has been cited as the "most important activity" of IBBY.[2][5] The patron of the awards has been Queen Margrethe II of Denmark[6] since 1992. A special issue of Bookbird, a journal published by IBBY, is published as the award is given out.[7]


The winner of the Hans Christian Anderson Awards is selected by a jury which is put together by IBBY's executive committee. The Jury's president is elected by IBBY's General Assembly. There were initially seven jurors,[4] but this was increased to eight and in 2000 to ten. Two years later, the jury was split with five members focusing on writing and the other five handling illustrations. The jurors are expected to be competent in children's literature and ideally represent a diverse group. It generally takes six months to review candidates and select a winner.[8]

Jella Lepman served as Jury President for the first three Andersen Awards, 1956 to 1960, and remained on the jury until her death in 1970, as the President of IBBY and then as its honorary president. Current four-year terms cover two award cycles. Other notable presidents have included Virginia Haviland (1970-1974), Patricia Crampton (1982-1986), and Ana Maria Machado (1986-1990).[9]

Selection processEdit

The award's regulations read: "The Hans Christian Award is presented every two years by IBBY to an author and to an illustrator, living at the time of the nomination, who by the outstanding value of their work are judged to have made a lasting contribution to literature for children and young people. The complete works of the author and the illustrator will be taken into consideration in the selection process". The award is explicitly designed to be an "international" work, and it is not explicitly given to a certain country.[4]

IBBY has many member nations—all countries are eligible for membership. Every member nation has its own organization, known as a "national section", that is active across the country. All member nations can nominate candidates for consideration in the Hans Christian Anderson Awards.[10] Some member states will repeatedly nominate the same author or illustrator, others nominate a new candidate each time.[11] To nominate a candidate, a dossier is prepared that provides information including a list of works and biographical sketch. The portfolio must have between five and ten books by the candidate, which are sent to jurors, IBBY's president, and the "Jury Secretary".[4] There were sixty-six nominees from thirty-three countries for the 2022 Hans Christian Anderson awards.[12]

The awards are named after Hans Christian Andersen, the 19th-century Danish author of fairy tales, and each winner receives the Hans Christian Andersen Medaille, a gold medal with the bust of Andersen, and a diploma.[2] Medals are presented at the biennial IBBY Congress.[1]

Writing award winnersEdit

Eleanor Farjeon received the first award in 1956
Gianni Rodari, who received the 1970 award
Jacqueline Woodson (2020 recipient), in 2018
Winners of the writing award[13]
Year Winner Country
1956 Eleanor Farjeon (for The Little Bookroom)[3]   United Kingdom
1958 Astrid Lindgren (for Rasmus på luffen)[3]   Sweden
1960 Erich Kästner (for Als ich ein kleiner Junge war [de])[3]   Germany
1962 Meindert DeJong   USA
1964 René Guillot   France
1966 Tove Jansson   Finland
1968 James Krüss   Germany
José Maria Sanchez-Silva   Spain
1970 Gianni Rodari   Italy
1972 Scott O'Dell   USA
1974 Maria Gripe   Sweden
1976 Cecil Bødker   Denmark
1978 Paula Fox   USA
1980 Bohumil Říha   Czechoslovakia
1982 Lygia Bojunga Nunes   Brazil
1984 Christine Nöstlinger   Austria
1986 Patricia Wrightson   Australia
1988 Annie M. G. Schmidt   Netherlands
1990 Tormod Haugen   Norway
1992 Virginia Hamilton   USA
1994 Michio Mado   Japan
1996 Uri Orlev   Israel
1998 Katherine Paterson   USA
2000 Ana Maria Machado   Brazil
2002 Aidan Chambers   United Kingdom
2004 Martin Waddell   Ireland
2006 Margaret Mahy   New Zealand
2008 Jürg Schubiger    Switzerland
2010 David Almond   United Kingdom
2012 María Teresa Andruetto   Argentina
2014 Nahoko Uehashi   Japan
2016 Cao Wenxuan   China
2018 Eiko Kadono   Japan
2020 Jacqueline Woodson   USA

Illustration award winnersEdit

Farshid Mesghali, the 1974 recipient
Květa Pacovská, the 1992 recipient
Winners of the illustration award[13]
Year Winner Country
1966 Alois Carigiet    Switzerland
1968 Jiří Trnka   Czechoslovakia
1970 Maurice Sendak   USA
1972 Ib Spang Olsen   Denmark
1974 Farshid Mesghali   Iran
1976 Tatjana Mawrina   Soviet Union
1978 Svend Otto S. [Wikidata]   Denmark
1980 Suekichi Akaba [Wikidata]   Japan
1982 Zbigniew Rychlicki   Poland
1984 Mitsumasa Anno   Japan
1986 Robert Ingpen   Australia
1988 Dušan Kállay [Wikidata]   Czechoslovakia
1990 Lisbeth Zwerger   Austria
1992 Květa Pacovská   Czechoslovakia[a]
1994 Jörg Müller [Wikidata]    Switzerland
1996 Klaus Ensikat [Wikidata]   Germany
1998 Tomi Ungerer   France
2000 Anthony Browne   United Kingdom
2002 Quentin Blake   United Kingdom
2004 Max Velthuijs   Netherlands
2006 Wolf Erlbruch   Germany
2008 Roberto Innocenti [Wikidata]   Italy
2010 Jutta Bauer   Germany
2012 Peter Sís   Czech Republic[b]
2014 Roger Mello   Brazil
2016 Rotraut Susanne Berner   Germany
2018 Igor Oleynikov [Wikidata]   Russia
2020 Albertine Zullo    Switzerland

Winners by countryEdit

The winners are most often residents of Europe and North America; the first winner from outside that region was Farshid Mesghali in 1974, from Iran.[11] After receiving the award. many authors and illustrators have their works gain wider recognition, particularly in the form of more translations.[14] As of 2021 there have been award winners from 25 countries. Americans have received the most writing (6) and total (7) recipients. Germans have won four illustration awards, tying them for the most.

Country Illustration Writing No. of winners
  United States 1 6 7
  Germany 4 2 6
  Japan 2 3 5
  United Kingdom 2 3 5
  Czechoslovakia 3 1 4
   Switzerland 3 1 4
  Brazil 1 2 3
  Denmark 2 1 3
  Australia 1 1 2
  Austria 1 1 2
  France 1 1 2
  Italy 1 1 2
  Netherlands 1 1 2
  Sweden 2 2
  Argentina 1 1
  China 1 1
  Czech Republic 1 1
  Finland 1 1
  Israel 1 1
  Iran 1 1
  Ireland 1 1
  New Zealand 1 1
  Norway 1 1
  Spain 1 1
  Poland 1 1
  Russia 1 1
  Soviet Union 1 1

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pacovská received the award one year before Czechoslovakia dissolved into its constituent states.
  2. ^ Sis was nominated by the extant Czech Republic. He was born in the former Czechoslovakia and educated there in Applied Arts. He has been a U.S. citizen from 1982.


  1. ^ a b "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  2. ^ a b c d Glistrup 2002, p. 14.
  3. ^ a b c d Glistrup 2002, p. 15.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Glistrup 2002, p. 16.
  5. ^ "Cao Wenxuan wins 'Nobel Prize' of children’s books". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  6. ^ Latrobe, Kathy (2001). "Childern's Literature: International Perspectives". World Literature Today. 75 (3/4): 98–102. doi:10.2307/40156756. ISSN 0196-3570.
  7. ^ Glistrup 2002, p. 21.
  8. ^ Glistrup 2002, p. 17.
  9. ^ "Hans Christian Award jury members". Glistrup, ed., pp. 119–24. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  10. ^ Tomlinson, Carl M. (2003). "The International Children's Literature Movement". World Literature Today. 77 (1): 68–70. doi:10.2307/40157788. ISSN 0196-3570.
  11. ^ a b Glistrup 2002, p. 19.
  12. ^ Kantor, Emma (9 December 2020). "Candidates for the 2022 Hans Christian Andersen Awards Announced". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Hans Christian Anderson Award". International Board on Books for Young People. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  14. ^ Glistrup 2002, p. 20.


External linksEdit