For the first time in 68 years, the New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Awards and its corresponding ceremony will be canceled, due to complications arising from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The awards, usually announced each November with a celebratory event following soon after, will resume in fall 2021.
The NYT/NYPL Best Illustrated Awards aim to recognize 10 of the best picture books published each year, selected purely for artistic merit. The New York Times began appointing an annually shifting trio of judges in 1952. The panel, composed of a children’s librarian, a literary critic, and an artist (usually a previous winner), considers every illustrated children’s book published that year in the U.S. for the honors. Since 2017, the New York Public Library has co-presented the list and hosted the awards luncheon.
Due to the coronavirus, the New York Public Library has postponed or canceled the rest of its 2020 events. In addition, the usual location where the Best Illustrated judging is conducted—the New York Times building in Manhattan—is currently closed to the public and nonessential employees, and the Times deemed the judging process unable to be conducted remotely.