Bookmaking New York City — FAQ

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1. How is the Bookmaking Competition organized?

The competition is divided into three grade levels: grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Students write, illustrate and construct books in class, and a team at each school selects one book as a school-wide winner to send on for the next round. (The rest should be displayed and celebrated in the school.) From the school-wide books, a panel of judges selects one city-wide winner, five borough winners and and five honorable mentions at each level.

2. What are the prizes?

At the annual awards ceremony at Brooklyn Public Library Central Library, city-wide winners receive a medal and $500, and borough winners receive a medal and $100. All winners, including school-wide winners and honorable mentions, receive a personal certificate of commendation. The teachers who advised the winners receive books from Penguin Random House.

3. What are the deadlines?

Specific deadlines are announced in the fall of each academic year and can be found on the Bookmaking Competition page of the Department of Education website. Generally, books from participating schools (one per school) to the Department of Education are submitted near the end of January. The judging takes place in mid-February, and the winners are notified soon after.

4. What do the students write about?

Virtually every subject from autobiography to fantasy has been addressed in these books. Self-expression is the keystone of the competition, so students are encouraged to find a theme that is important to them.

5. Are there any restrictions on the books?

• While most students write and illustrate their own books, collaborations are permitted. No more than two students are allowed to work on a book.
• There are no restrictions on the art mediums used, but the size of the books is limited to no more than 15 by 18 inches.
• All books must be handmade and securely bound; any pre-bound book or notebook will be disqualified.

6. Who are the judges and what criteria do they use?

The panel of judges comprises six to eight carefully selected librarians, teachers and artists. They look for originality, quality of writing and illustration, and skillful presentation. Winning books have ranged from hand-lettered, hand-drawn storybooks to polished, computer-generated volumes.

7. Are the books available for the public to see?

All the winning books are on display at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch, at Grand Army Plaza, during the month of May. After the award ceremony, the current catalogue can be seen on this website.

8. How can I find out about entering the competition?

Visit the Bookmaking Competition page of the Department of Education website for submission forms, or the Bookmaking section of this website.