International Awards for Spanish-Language Books | Libro por libro

Tim Wadham shares resources for finding award-winning international titles to add to Spanish-language collections.


We are all still giddy celebrating Matt de la Peña’s recent Newbery win. For educators looking for other excellent titles, specifically those by Latin@ authors and illustrators to add to Spanish-language collections, there are numerous children’s book awards given in Spain and Latin America.

An important caveat to consider is that children’s book awards in the Spanish-speaking world are quite a bit different than what we are familiar with in the United States. There is not an exact equivalent to the Newbery or Caldecott awards. In Spain, many of the awards are given or sponsored by publishers. Other prizes are sponsored by cities or other entities, but not library associations. In Spain, awards are often given to books published in Catalan which, while an official language in that country, is different from the Spanish most often found in the U.S. The same is also true for Basque. Aside from the language issues, books receiving awards in Spain can sometimes be hard to obtain here. The prices of the books from Spain (when available) are often listed in euros. Working through a jobber or distributor who is familiar with the Spanish or Latin American book market can be a huge help. It is also possible to purchase some of these books in digital format directly from the publisher.

You can also find information about Spanish-language book awards by visiting the Spain chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

The following is a selection of prizes given to children’s literature in Spain and Latin America.

1610_libro-cv1International Awards

Hans Christian Andersen Award Sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize” for children’s literature, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards “are a pair of biennial literary awards by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), recognizing one living author and one living illustrator for their ‘lasting contribution[s] to children’s literature.’” Only two Spanish-language writers have been recipients of this prize—José María Sanchez-Silva from Spain in 1968 and María Teresa Andruetto from Argentina in 2012.

ANDRUETTO, María Teresa. Huellas en la arena. (Footprints in the Sand). Sudamericana. 2013. pap. $6.99. ISBN 978-9500740814. Gr 3-6 A collection of 13 stories that have the feel of myths, legends, and the oral tradition. Andruetto’s tales leave much unsaid, and depend on the power of single images, such as a woman who wears only one glove. What readers will remember from these somewhat elliptical tales is the narrator’s voice, transporting ancient stories from the past into the present. SÁNCHEZ-SILVA, José María. Marcelino, pan y vino. (Marcelino, Bread and Wine). Andres Bello. 1996. pap. OP. ISBN 9789561309180. Gr 3-5 –An orphan appears at the door of a monastery. Named Marcelino, he is raised and cared for by the friars. A statue of Jesus on the cross that Marcelino finds in the attic of the monastery comes alive and takes the bread and wine Marcelino brings him. This is a beloved story that is much better known as the 1955 Spanish film Miracle of Marcelino, which is readily available on DVD. It is also a prime example of how religion, especially the Catholic faith, can be a driving force in much of older Spanish literature for children.

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature with a SEK 5 million prize (almost $6,000) awarded annually. Sponsored by the government of Sweden, and administered by the Swedish Arts Council, the award bears the name of author and activist Astrid Lindgren, the beloved creator of Pippi Longstocking. It is a lifetime achievement award, the object of which is “to increase interest in children’s and young people’s literature, and to promote children’s rights on a global level.”

The only Latin American writer and illustrator to win this award is Isol, an Argentinian who has always been one of my favorite Latina authors for storytimes and for programs for adults. The universality of her work is particularly notable. It is not culturally specific but celebrates the doubts, fears, and foibles of children everywhere. There are numerous English translations of her work available, primarily from Canadian publisher Groundwood. Isol blogs at

ISOL, Petit, the Monster. illus. by author. tr. by Elisa Amado. Groundwood. 2010. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780888999474. ––––. Petit, el monstruo. illus. by author. Serres. 2009. Tr $15.96. ISBN 9788478716654. K-3 Petit is a child who can’t decide exactly who he is. He’s a good boy because he plays with his dog, but he’s a bad boy because he pulls girls’ hair. Is he nice or mean? Petit is confused, and comes to the conclusion that he must be some sort of good-bad boy—a monster. Isol’s distinctive illustrations are particularly good at portraying Petit in all of his goodness and badness. This is a perfect example of how Isol captures the universal doubts and worries of childhood.

spanish and latin american awards

Cervantes Chico Prize According to the prize’s website, “The Cervantes Chico Prize honors a Spanish-language writer whose creative career has excelled in the field of children’s literature. In addition to the writer’s literary merits, criteria such as popularity and use of the writer’s work as an educational and teaching resource are taken into account for this designation.” This is a lifetime achievement prize awarded by the City of Alcalá de Henares, a World Heritage City and birthplace of Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes.

Author Ana Alcolea was announced recently as the 2016 Cervantes Chico winner. She is published in Spain by Anaya.

ALCOLEA , Ana. Castillos en el aire (Castles in the Air). illus by Mercè López. Lectorum/Anaya. 2015. pap. $13.99. ISBN 9788467871128.

K-3 –When Santiago was young, he liked to go to the beach and make drawings in the sand. But every day the waves would come in and erase what he had drawn. He dreams of being able to create something that cannot be erased. As an adult, he travels and comes to a place where he decides to build an indestructible castle in the air. This is a book that is ideal for adults to share with children, and is an example of how books from Spain are not always about children, but rather childhood itself.

1610_libro-cv2Premio Lazarillo The Premio Lazarillo is the oldest Spanish-language book prize. It was originally given by the now-defunct National Book Institute in Spain. Since 1986, the award has been under the care of La Organización Española para el Libro Infantil y Juvenil or OEPLI (The Spanish Organization for Infants and Juvenile Literature). OEPLI is the Spanish section of IBBY. Awards are given for picture books and “literary creation.” This prize is the closest to the Newbery and Caldecott awards. Many of the recent prizes have been given to books in Catalan.

ARBOLEDA , Roberto. Prohibido leer a Lewis Carroll. Anaya. 2013. ebk. $5.99. ISBN 9788467839739. Gr 6-9 –Eugene Chignon is a governess from France who has come to New York City to care for a child named Alice who is obsessed with Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books, to the extent that her parents have banned them from the house. The governess has to hide the fact that the real Alice, 80-year-old Alice Liddell, is going to visit New York. This is a tale as quirky as Lewis Carroll’s original.

Premio Nacional de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil The Premio Nacional is a Spanish prize sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Recent award-winner Laura Gallego García’s work in fantasy, such as The Legend of the Wandering King, rivals that of Lloyd Alexander and others.

GALLEGO GARCIA, Laura. Donde los árboles cantan. (Where the Trees Sing). SM. 2011. ebk. $6.99. ISBN 9788467557763. Gr 7 Up –Viana has grown up with legends of the Great Forest, which is the place where the trees sing. She, the only daughter of the Duke of Rocagrís, has been betrothed to Robian of Castelmar since she was a child. Their nuptials are interrupted by the threat of the barbarians of the steppes. Robian is forced to go to war, and Viana has to wait for his return. This is when the legends of the forest come into play.

Premio Boolino de Narrativa Infantil The Boolino prize is a fairly new children’s literature award that is designed to discover new talent. It is given in collaboration with Penguin Random House Publishing Group, Ediciones B, and Bruño. The most recent winter is Cristina Alfonso Ibañez, whose Entre todas las estrellas was a unanimous choice of the award jury.

IBAÑEZ, Cristina Alfonso. Entre todas las estrellas. (Among All the Stars). Blok. 2015. pap. $12. ISBN 9788416075713. Gr 5-8 –Once in while you find a gem that you wish was published in an English translation. This is one of those books. One by one, three kids—Natalia, Pedro and Lucía—find their way to a seemingly abandoned house in a remote area. Each of them has left home for various reasons. They are joined by mysterious figure Iván, who says that this house belongs to his grandfather. Through the course of the evening, they each reveal their stories and their reason for estrangement from their families. News of a horrible accident on the freeway and a trip to the hospital reveal that Iván is not exactly who he seems. The threads are tied together in one of the most satisfying conclusions that I have recently read. It is distinguished by gorgeous writing with lyrical passages that readers will want to keep as quotes.

Premio El Barco de Vapor SM is a publisher based in Spain that has a global reach with offices throughout Latin America. The SM Foundation has given the Barco de Vapor (Steamboat) awards since 1978. The award is presented to “promote the creation of a literature for children and youth to foster a taste for reading and transmit, with literary quality, human, social, cultural or religious values.” Besides Spain, the Barco de Vapor awards are also given in Peru, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Colombia. The 2016 winner in Spain is Roberto Santiago.

SANTIAGO, Roberto. Los protectores. illus. by Paula Blumen. (The Protectors). SM. 2015. Tr $12.50. ISBN 9788467586145. Gr 7 Up –Victor Friman is old and new. He and his family return to what was once his home and find that everything has changed. Victor meets an irresistible girl named Barbara, who turns out to be a member of a secret group known as “The Protectors.” There is also a gang on the streets known as Los Apaches. Victor is drawn into a situation where nothing is familiar and he has to figure out what inner resources he truly possesses.

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Ann (Ana) Morris

May I submit Spanish language books that I have written? I am an independently published children's author, but I write my books in English and Spanish separately. I (my translated version owned by the author) have also been a finalist in two programs that award for Spanish language books. I am a member of SCBWI and SCBWI translators.

Posted : Jul 02, 2017 02:47



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