Information and Procedures

Purpose of the Award

The Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) in collaboration Brigham Young University sponsor the Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award to recognize effective, enlightened portrayals of individuals with developmental disabilities in children's books. Every even year, an award is presented to an author and illustrator (if appropriate) of a children's picture book and/or a children's chapter book.


Books eligible for consideration include:

1. Children's books that include a main or supporting character with developmental disabilities.Developmental Disability is defined as follows: a severe, chronic, mental and/or physical disability occurring before age 22 that is likely to continue indefinitely and require a combination of lifelong support and services. The disability results in substantial functional limitations in at least three major life activities: self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, or economic self-sufficiency.

Typical developmental disabilities considered for this award include:

  • Autism spectrum disorders

  • Intellectual disabilities (e.g., Down syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder)

  • Developmental delays, and

  • Physical combined with intellectual disabilities.

For this award, developmental disabilities must align with the mission of the CEC Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (e.g., if the character with a disability would likely be served by DADD rather than another CEC division, such as the Division on Learning Disabilities, then its inclusion is appropriate).

2. For the picture book award, the book must be recognized as a picture book written for children in story format. Biographies written in story format are included.

3. For the chapter book award, the book must be recognized as a fictional chapter book (generally a novel divided into chapters) written for children or young adults in story format. This includes easy readers, juvenile fiction, and young adult fiction. Biographies in story format are also included.

4. The book must be published in English with an initial copyright/publication date within a predetermined two year period prior to the award date (e.g., 2020-2021 awarded in 2022). If a book was published/copyrighted at the end of an award cycle year and/or reprinted and not previously considered it may be considered for the current award. Books translated from another language must have an English-Language edition copyright/publication within the same two-year period.

Books that are not eligible for the award include:

1. Non-fiction books (i.e., books that present factual information not in story format) and books that are intended to primarily teach about a disability (rather than to present a story)

2. Books published through vanity press

3. Books that present the character with developmental disabilities as an inanimate object, animal, or other non-human.

Submission Procedures

Publishers are asked to donate 15 copies of each book to be considered for the award. Books are distributed to the Review Panel to be used in the selection procedure. Copies are donated to the host city of the DADD conference and to the Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award Special Collection in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.

Send books to be considered to the chair of the award:

Tina Taylor, Dolly Gray Award Chair

301 McKay Building

McKay School of Education

Brigham Young University

Provo, UT 84602 USA


This award is given biennially in conjunction with the CEC-DADD conference. All books considered for the award must be submitted at least 3 months in advance of the conference. The deadline for submitting books to be considered for the 2022 award is October 1, 2021. The award will be presented in January 2022.

*For information about the Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award, including eligibility and evaluation criteria, see Eligibility.

Selection Committee

The President of the Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD), in consultation with the Executive Director and the Board of Directors, will appoint the members of the Selection and Review Committee, Publicity Committee, and Presentation Committee. These members will serve for a term of two or three cycles.

Consideration is given to include a wide range of members on the Selection and Review Committee. Representation may include, for example:

1. DADD Awards Chair (2 cycles)

2. Chair of the Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award (4 cycles)

3. Chair of the Selection and Review Committee (3 cycles)

4. Publicity Chair (3 cycles)

5. Presentation Chair (2 cycles)

6. Parent of an individual with DD (2 cycles)

7. Teacher of students with DD (2 cycles)

8. Children's literature "expert" (e.g., librarian, professor) (2 cycles)

9. Visual artist or book illustrator, and/or children' book author (2 cycles)

10. Member of the Board of Directors of DADD (2 cycles)

11. Individual with Autism/Developmental Disabilities (2 cycles)

12. Student panel (1 cycle)

Rating Scale

When each reviewer finishes reading an eligible book, he/she complete a rating scale that serves to determine the quality of the literature and representation of characters with developmental disabilities. The scale is comprised of multiple categories including overall reaction, personal portrayal, social interactions, exemplary practices, sibling relationships, point of view, literary quality, and illustrations. This scale was developed based upon current research literature regarding individuals with autism and developmental disabilities as well as standard practices for judging quality literature for children and youth.

How to choose a good book!

Parents, teachers, librarians, and others can use the rating scale to help them select appropriate books for their needs. The rating scale is available in PDF form below. A MS Word version is available upon request.

2020 - Rating Scale for Quality Characterizations Developmental Disabilities Children's Lit.pdf

Awards and Certificates

The author and illustrator (if appropriate) of the award winning book(s) will receive a plaque. Honorary winners (if awarded) will receive a certificate. All of the awards will be given on even-numbered years, in conjunction with the DADD conference.

Award winners will be invited to the DADD Conference to receive their award. If agreed upon by authors and/or illustrators, autographed copies will be available individually at the conference.


Once the awards are announced, press releases and other publicity (e.g., via CEC and DADD web pages and newsletters) will be disseminated. Links to the nominated and award-winning books will be made from the Dolly Gray Award website to the websites of the sponsors of the reward: CED-DADD.

DADD will provide bookplates indicating that the books were donated by DADD. Award seals will be provided to booksellers and/or publishers to be affixed to the cover of the award-winning books, indicating they are Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award winners.