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Prior to 2004, this award was known as the Ruth Schwartz Children’s Book Award. It was established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in honour of the late Ruth Schwartz, a respected Toronto bookseller. In 2004, the Schwartz family decided to rename the awards – the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards to honour Sylvia, a well-known photographer in Toronto from 1940s to the early 1960s, who specialized in children’s portraiture. This prize recognizes authors and illustrators who demonstrate artistic excellence in Canadian children’s literature.

Winning books are selected by juries of children from a public school in Ontario (juries alternate yearly between one public school in Toronto and a public school outside Toronto). In 2004 the prize money was doubled from $5,000 to $10,000. Students in grade 6 judge the young adult/middle reader book category. The winning author will receive a $5,000 prize. Students in grade 4 award the $5,000 children's picture book prize, which is shared between the author and illustrator. The winning book must have been published in Canada during the previous year and the author must be a Canadian citizen. The award is administered by the Ontario Arts Council Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canadian Booksellers' Association.

2009 Picture Book Mélanie Watt, Chester's Back. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2008.
2009 YA-Middle Reader Alma Fullerton, Libertad. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008.
2008 Picture Book Duncan Weller The Boy from the Sun. Vancouver: Simply Read Books, 2006.
2008 YA-Middle Reader Kenneth Oppel Darkwing. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007.
2007 Picture Book Mélanie Watt Scaredy Squirrel. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2006.
2007 YA-Middle Reader Deborah Ellis I Am a Taxi. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2006.
2006 Picture Book Marie-Louise Gay Caramba. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2005.
2006 YA-Middle Reader Kenneth Oppel Skybreaker. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005.
2005 Picture Book Wallace Edwards Monkey Business. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2004.
2005 YA-Middle Reader Kenneth Oppel Airborn. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004.
2004 Picture Book Barbara Reid The Subway Mouse. Markham, ON: North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada, 2003.
2004 YA-Middle Reader Brian Doyle Boy O’ Boy. Toronto: Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 2003.
2003 Picture Book Richard Thompson (Author) and Martin Springett (Illustrator) The Night Walker. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002.
2003 YA-Middle Reader Deborah Ellis Parvana’s Journey. Toronto: Groundwood, 2002.
2002 Picture Book Paulette Bourgeois (Author) and Stéphane Jorisch (Illustrator) Oma’s Quilt. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2001.
2002 YA-Middle Reader Mary C. Sheppard Seven for a Secret. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2001.
2001 Picture Book Stephanie McLennan (Author) and Sean Cassidy (Illustrator) The Chicken Cat. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000.
2001 YA-Middle Reader Janet McNaughton The Secret Under My Skin. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000.
2000 Picture Book Marie-Louise Gay Stella Star of the Sea. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1999.
2000 YA-Middle Reader Kenneth Oppel Sunwing. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999.
1999 Picture Book Celia Barker Lottridge (Author) and Harvey Chan (Illustrator) Music for the Tsar of the Sea. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1998.
1999 YA-Middle Reader Eric Walters War of the Eagles. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 1998.
1998 Picture Book Jo Ellen Bogart (Author) and Laura Fernandez & Rick Jacobson (Illustrators) Jeremiah Learns to Read. Richmond Hill, ON: North Winds Press, 1997.
1998 YA-Middle Reader Martha Brooks Bone Dance. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1997.
1997 Picture Book Paul Yee (Author) and Harvey Chan (Illustrator) Ghost Train. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1996.
1997 YA-Middle Reader Kit Pearson Awake and Dreaming. Toronto: Viking, 1996
1996 Picture Book Geoff Butler The Killick: A Newfoundland Story. Montreal: Tundra Books, 1995.
1996 YA-Middle Reader Welwyn Wilton Katz Out of the Dark. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1995.
1995 Picture Book Barbara Greenwood (Author) & Heather Collins (Illustrator) A Pioneer Story: The Daily Life of a Canadian Family in 1840. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1994.
1995 YA-Middle Reader Julie Johnston Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me. Toronto: Lester Publishing, 1994.
1994 Picture Book Michael Kusugak (Author) and Vladyana Krykorka (Illustrator) Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails. Toronto: Annick Press, 1993.
1994 YA-Middle Reader O. R. Melling The Hunter's Moon. Toronto: HarperCollins, 1993.
1993 Phoebe Gilman Something from Nothing. Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1992.
1992 Paul Yee (author) and Harvey Chan (illustrator) Roses Sing on New Snow. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1991.
1991 William Bell Forbidden City. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1990.
1990 Diana Wieler Bad Boy. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1989.
1989 Janet Lunn Amos's Sweater. Illustrated by Kim LaFave. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1988.
1988 Cora Taylor The Doll. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1987.
1987 Barbara Reid Have You Seen Birds? by Joanne Oppenheim. Richmond Hill, ON: North Winds Press, 1986.
1986 Robert Munsch Thomas' Snowsuit. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko. Toronto: Annick Press, 1985.
1985 Jean Little Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird. Toronto: Penguin Books, 1984.
1984 Tim Wynne-Jones Zoom at Sea. Illustrated by Ken Nutt. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1983.
1983 Jan Truss Jasmin. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1982.
1982 Marsha Hewitt and Claire Mackay One Proud Summer. Toronto: Women's Press, 1981.
1981 Suzanne Martel The King's Daughter. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1980.
1980 Barbara Smucker Days of Terror. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1979.
1979 Kevin Major Hold Fast. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1978.
1978 Dennis Lee Garbage Delight. Illustrated by Frank Newfeld. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1977.
1977 Robert Thomas Allen The Violin. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1976.
1976 Mordecai Richler Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang. Illustrated by Fritz Wegner. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1975.

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