The Cybils awards are given out every year by children and young adult bloggers for "the year's best children and young adult awards". The award is structured into two rounds and is run completely by bloggers.
The award has been given out annually since 2006 and is run by Anne Levy, the administrator of the awards.
The purpose of the award, according to the official website is, this: "to reward the children's and young adult authors (and illustrators, let's not forget them) whose books contain the highest literary merits and "kid appeal" and to "foster a sense of community among bloggers who write about children's and young adult literature, highlight our best reviewers (and shamelessly promote their blogs) and provide a forum for the similarly obssessed". So essentially this: to reward authors for their books and to foster a community of bloggers.
The award is a bit different from the ALA Awards and is open to more categories; in that "children's and young adult" guideline there are many categories.
The categories are the following:
- Book Apps (this is a new category introduced in 2011)
- Fiction Picture Books
- Nonfiction Picture Books
- Easy Readers
- Early Chapter Books
- Graphic Novels
- Fantasy and Science Fiction
- Middle Grade Fiction
- Young Adult Nonfiction
- Young Adult Graphic Novels
- Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction
- Young Adult Fiction
You can view a list of the 2011 winners in all these categories here.
Now, as you can see, the award is very vast and has many different categories. The categories are all judged by two groups in two rounds: the round 1 panelists and the judges (the ones who get to decide the winners).
Anyone who contributes regularly to a blog about children's and young adult literature can participate ( they must be at least 16 and if they are under 18 their parents must sign a waiver). Regularly, according to the site, means that you contribute to the blog "pretty much at least once a month or so, though there are always exceptions". To sign up, you fill out a form every year. Not everyone is chosen, however, and the judges are combed from the many people who enter. The judges are broken into two groups, the 1st round panelists and the final judges. There are 1st round panelists and final judges for each category.
The criteria for judges is thus follows:
- a demonstrated expertise in the genre
- a demonstrated enthusiasm for blogging
- a blog that has built a following (not necessarily a huge following -- loyalty counts)
- the blogger's prestige
People can nominate books for the Cybils starting October 1st. After October 15th the first round judges begin their work. Their role is to "sift through scores of nominated books in your genre". They work for about a month, reading frantically and working hard, and then turn in a shortlist of 5-7 titles in the middle of December.
Judges start at the beginning of January and announce the winners by February 12, reading all the titles on the shortlist and determining the final winner.
And of course, it is a LOT of work.
If you want to read actual posts on the work in the Cybils, here are some posts from STACKED (a blog that has participated in the award for the last three years on different topics pertaining to the award): post cybils life, from the trenches, why the awards matter, and life on the panel.
If you're interested in learning more about the Cybils, such as how to nominate titles, see past winners, or nominate yourself to be a judge (good luck!) visit the Cybils website.