Bookmaking — FAQ


1. What is goal of the EJK Bookmaking Competition?

In the words of the New York City Department of Education: “Participation in this competition inspires the creative spirit in students to craft picture books as vehicles for self-expression, encourages the study of the picture book genre, and promotes bookmaking as a career opportunity in the arts.”

2. Who is eligible to enter?

Students, grades 3 through 12, from every school in the New York City system. Visual arts teachers, English teachers and librarians working with students in those grades may supervise bookmaking at their school.

3. Is the Competition part of the curriculum or an extracurricular activity?

Bookmaking activities are part of supervised classroom instruction, with an emphasis on picture book and author studies. The whole class is expected to participate.

4. How is the Bookmaking Competition organized? What are the prizes?

The competition is divided into three levels: grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 8, and grades 9 through 12. After the books are completed, one book is selected as the school-wide winner, which the principal submits to the Department of Education. (The rest can be displayed and celebrated within the school.) From the books submitted, the jury selects borough winners and one city-wide winner at each level. At the annual awards ceremony for winners and honorable mentions at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, city-wide winners receive a medal and $500, borough winners, a medal and $100; and the teachers or librarians who advised them, a gift certificate for books from Penguin Random House. The winners, including school-wide winners, and honorable mentions receive a personal certificate of commendation. There is also an exhibition of books in the Children’s Wing at the Central Library.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. When and where are the winners announced?

The winners are announced at the EJK Book Award ceremony in April, during the Children’s Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. They are notified immediately after selection, so that they and their publishers can make arrangements to travel to the  ceremony. The winners must be present to receive the award and a $1,000 honorarium.

11. How can I find out about entering the Competition?

Visit the Bookmaking Competition page of the Department of Education website for submission forms.