New award highlights diversity in children’s literature

The diversity in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ) children’s book award has been launched for 2024 to celebrate and lift the voices of marginalised and minority people and communities.

In partnership with the Australian School Library Association and the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa, a committee of experienced and passionate people working in children’s literature has launched a brand-new biennial award for 2024 to recognise and reward diversity by homegrown talent. To remove and reduce barriers to marginalised people, the nomination process has been made as simple as possible with no entry fee.

This award will bring Australia and New Zealand in-line with the UK and US who have been successfully running awards such as The Diverse Book Awards, Jhalak Prize, Little Rebels, and The Walter Awards for years. Book nominations close on 31st of August 2023 and are open to traditional and self-published creators with works of fiction released in Australia and/or New Zealand. Both creators and publishers are invited to nominate picture books, chapter books, and middle grade novels released in either 2022 or 2023.

Voted for by judges aged between six and sixteen, longlisted titles will be promoted in a digital and print brochure distributed to schools, bookstores, and libraries across the two countries in early 2024. One winner in each category will be chosen by a small panel of guest judges and will win $1000 (AUD) and further promotion.

'DANZ is more than an award; it’s a valuable resource,' says DANZ founder and children’s author, Kate Foster. 'A list like this, curated by both adults and children, will support teachers, librarians, booksellers and more, and help put the best representation into the hands of young readers everywhere.'

In recent academic studies which extensively researched children’s fiction in Australia and New Zealand, results show an overwhelming lack of diverse representation – a contrast to the high percentage of the population not being white, Australian- or New Zealand-born, abled, middle-class, or heterosexual. Adding further concern, many books published over the past ten years that do feature diverse characters and settings are often filled with harmful representation portraying inaccurate and insensitive stereotypes and tropes.

The publishing landscape is slowly taking notice and making changes, though there is a long way still to go. An award, therefore, drawing attention to positive, ground-breaking, inclusive diversity in children’s literature will bring wider awareness to the wonderful books which offer mirrors, windows, and sliding doors, and organically build empathy, understanding, and encouragement to children from all walks of life.

DANZ will not only encourage and welcome more marginalised creators to enter the mainstream arts, but also book-buyers and educators to stock appealing books for children that have positive representation, given a seal of approval by a panel of eager young readers.

DANZ is seeking children’s books which push boundaries, challenge stereotypes, and celebrate diversity, including disability, culture, class, LGBTQI, race, and religion. The diversity portrayed in the book and under which the book is nominated must be relevant, obvious, and important to the story, but the story must be more than the diversity portrayed. The submitted work must be sensitively and authentically written without using offensive, inaccurate, harmful, and insensitive tropes and representation. The judging process will be thorough and critical in this regard.

Visit to learn more, review the criteria and FAQs, and to download the nomination form

Any queries or concerns can be directed to the DANZ committee at [email protected]

Since the award is not charging an entry fee, support in all forms, from monetary to donations the sharing of services, is welcomed and encouraged to help take the award to the next level. Please reach out to Kate at [email protected] to discuss how you can make a difference.