70 Years of the CBCA

Covers of books by Elaine Forrestal which have won, or been shortlisted, for various Awards, including the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Younger Readers.

The Children’s Book Council of Australia is celebrating 70 years of support, promotion, nurturing and rewards for the writers and illustrators of Australian children’s books.

Since the first ever CBCA Award – a single white camellia – was presented to Leslie Rees in 1946, the children’s book publishing industry has grown and developed until today it contributes around $11billion annually to the Australian economy. Over the years many now famous writers and illustrators have had their careers kick-started by the public exposure of their work on the annual  CBCA Shortlist. Being chosen as a winner in one of the five categories that exist now is an even bigger boost. However, the fact that just being on the Shortlist is enough to make a huge difference  to the sales of those titles shows how highly regarded the Awards are, both here and overseas.

The CBCA, run largely by volunteers, has also grown. Instead of the white camellia, it now provides substantial cash prizes. It has also become independent of corporate sponsors and has set up it’s own Foundation to fund the Awards in perpetuity. The incredible hard work and forward thinking that went into setting up this Foundation is sometimes unfairly held against the organisation when it occasionally seeks the support of the Australia Council for one-off programs, like the recent 70th Anniversary Conference. But, with typical courage and even more hard work, the Conference went ahead anyway, albeit on a slightly reduced scale.

Bravo, CBCA!

Happy 70th Birthday and ‘may you bloom and grow forever’.

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