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Scott O'Dell Award
Scott O'Dell Award

Scott O'Dell Award

Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

In 1982, Scott O'Dell established The Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. The annual award of $5,000 goes to an author for a meritorious book published in the previous year for children or young adults.  Scott O'Dell established this award to encourage other writers--particularly new authors--to focus on historical fiction. He hoped in this way to increase the interest of young readers in the historical background that has helped to shape their country and their world.

For Nomination Information, click here.

Teachers, click here for a list of these books by historical period to help with your lesson planning. (Updated January 2011.)


(To order any book below, simply click its title and you will be redirected to an site for purchasing.)
Discover other terrific authors like Scott O'Dell who
have been recognized with the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

 Full of Beans (Random House Books for Young Readers), by Jennifer L. Holm, 2017.

 The Hired Girl (Candlewick Press), by Laura Amy Schlitz, 2016.

 Dash (Scholastic Press), by Kirby Larson, 2015.

Bo at Ballard Creek imageBo at Ballard Creek (Henry Holt and Co.), by Kirkpatrick Hill, 2014.

Chickadee by Louise ErdrichChickadee (HarperCollins), by Louise Erdrich, 2013.

(Note: This is the second time Louise Erdrich has been named the Scott O'Dell Award recipient. She was nominated and won in 2006 for the Game of Silence.)

Dead End in Norvelt Dead End in Norvelt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), by Jack Gantos, 2012.

One Crazy Summer One Crazy Summer (Amistad), by Rita Williams Garcia, 2011.

The Storm in the Barn The Storm in the Barn (Candlewick), by Matt Phelan, 2010.

To see photos from the 2010 Awards ceremony, click here.


Chains Chains (Simon & Schuster), by Laurie Halse Anderson, 2009. (PDF Press Release)


Elijah of BuxtonElijah of Buxton (Scholastic), by Christopher Paul Curtis, 2008.


The Green Glass SeaThe Green Glass Sea (Viking Children's Books), by Ellen Klages, 2007.


The Game of SilenceThe Game of Silence (HarperCollins Children's Books), by Louise Erdrich, 2006.

WorthWorth (Simon & Schuster), by A LaFaye, 2005.


The River Between usThe River Between Us (Dial Press), by Richard Peck, 2004.


Trouble Don't LastTrouble Don't Last (Alfred A. Knopf), by Shelley Pearsall, 2003.


The landThe Land (Phyllis Fogelman Books), by Mildred D. Taylor, 2002.


The Art of Keeping CoolThe Art of Keeping Cool (A Richard Jackson Book/Antheneum), by Janet Taylor Lisle, 2001.


Two Suns in the SkyTwo Suns in the Sky (Front Street/Cricket Books), by Miriam Bat-Ami, 2000.


Forty Acres and Maybe a MuleForty Acres and Maybe a Mule (Jean Fritz/Antheneum), by Harriette Robinette, 1999.


Out of the DuseOut of the Dust (Scholastic), by Karen Hesse, 1998.


Jip, His StoryJip, His Story (Lodestar/Dutton), by Katherine Patterson, 1997.


The BombThe Bomb (Harcourt, Brace), by Theodore Taylor, 1996.


Under the Blood Red SunUnder the Blood Red Sun (Delacorte), by Graham Salisbury, 1995.


Bull RunBull Run (Laura Geringer/Harper-Collins), by Paul Fleischmann, 1994.


Morning GirlMorning Girl (Hyperion), by Michael Dorris, 1993.


Stepping On CracksStepping on Cracks (Clarion), by Mary Downing Hahn, 1992.


A Time of TroublesA Time of Troubles (Charles Scribner's Sons), by Pieter Van Raven, 1991.


Shades of GrayShades of Gray (Macmillan), by Carolyn Reeder, 1990.


  The Honorable Prison (Lodestar/Dutton), by Lyll Becca de Jenkins, 1989.

 Charley SkedaddleCharley Skedaddle (Morrow), by Patricia Beatty, 1988.


Streams to the River, River to the Sea

Streams to the River, River to the Sea (Houghton Mifflin--Award money donated to Children's Book Council), by Scott O'Dell, 1987.


Sarah, Plain and TallSarah, Plain and Tall (Harper & Row), by Patricia MacLachlan, 1986.


The Fighting GroundThe Fighting Ground (Lippincott), by Avi, 1985.


The Sign of the BeaverThe Sign of the Beaver (Houghton mifflin), by Elizabeth George Speare, 1984.


Additional Information:

In 1981 and 1982, no books of sufficient merit were published, so no award was given in 1982 or 1983.  Since 1984, the award has been presented each year. 

To be eligible for the award, a book must have been published as a book intended for children or young people, it must be set in the New World (Canada, Central or South America, or the United States), it must be published by a publisher in the United States, and it must be written in English by a citizen of the United States.

Each year the selection is made by the O'Dell Award Committee, which was headed from its inception in 1982 until her death in 2002 by Zena Sutherland, Professor Emeritus of Children's Literature at the University of Chicago. For many years, Dr. Sutherland was author of Children and Books, the basic college text in children's literature. The Zena Sutherland Lectures, a series of lectures in her honor established in 1983, are given each year in Chicago under the direction of the Chicago Public Library and the University of Chicago Lab School.

The Awards Commitee

The Chair of the Scott O'Dell Awards Committee is Deborah Stevenson, Editor of The Bulletin and Director of the Center for Children's Books. She is assisted by Ann Carlson, Librarian, Oak Park and River Forest High School; Elizabeth Bush, former St. Damian School Librarian, and adjunct faculty for the University of Illinois’ iSchool; and Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief of the Horn Book, Inc.

To submit a book for the next Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, click here

Check back annually for NEW WINNERS of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!​

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