Purpose of the Award

The Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) in collaboration with Special Needs Project 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.

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 DD (2 cycles)
  12. Non-disabled student panel (1 cycle)

Submission Procedures

Publishers are asked to donate 12 copies of each book to be considered for the award. Books are distributed to the Review Board be used in the selection procedure and copies are also donated to the host city of the DADD biennial convention. Books to be considered for the award can be sent to the chair of the award:

Tina Taylor Dyches, 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 three months in advance of the conference. The deadline for submitting books to be considered for the 2016 award is October 2015. The award will be presented in January 2016.


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., 2014–2015 awarded in 2016). If a book was published/copyrighted at the end of an award cycle year and therefore not included for review, it may be considered for the current award.

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.

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 biennial DADD conference.

Award winners will be invited to both the DADD Conference and/or the April CEC conference to receive their award. Copies of the books will be available for purchase through the award co-sponsor, Special Needs Project, and, if agreed upon by authors and/or illustrators, autographed 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 and Special Needs Project.

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 were Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award winners.