The age range of the reader, the main character’s age, and the overall book length usually define the category of a children’s book—although there can be exceptions. General guidelines for the book categories are outlined below. Both fiction and non-fiction entries are eligible for all categories.
Picture Book (PB)
Age: 2-8 or Pre-K to Grade 3
Picture books are short (usually 32 pages), are often read aloud to a child, and the text and illustrations work together to tell the story.
However, don’t include illustrations with your PB entry—if illustrations will show what isn’t in the text, add a few short illustrator notes to explain.
Indicating page breaks isn't necessary.
Middle Grade (MG)
Age: 8-12 or Grades 3 to 7
Book Word Count: 25,000-50,000 words (Chapter Books: 5,000-15,000 words)
Protagonists in MG books are generally the same age or slightly older than the reader. Stories focus on issues relevant to middle-grade kids, and can be read independently.
MG includes any genre, such as fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, memoir, verse, etc.
The Competition includes chapter books in this category. Chapter books are for readers age 7 to 9 beginning to read on their own. Stories are often about school and friendships. Chapter books may be supported by spot illustrations, but don’t include illustrations with your entry.
Young Adult (YA)
Age: 12-14 or Grades 7 to 12
In a YA novel, the main character is typically the same age or a little older than the reader, and usually not older than 18. YA has more complex plots, character arcs, subplots and themes than MG.
YA includes any genre, such as fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, memoir, verse, etc.