A vibrant network of young readers, from emerging to young adult, will dive deeply into our Shortlist and express their opinions and share their responses as judges ‘shadowing’ our own CBCA Judges. They will use the same criteria to reflect on literary values and to champion their choices. Within their groups they will collaborate and develop their own creative response to a chosen book and share this with the community.

Each group will focus on one of our five categories: Older Readers, Younger Readers, Early Childhood, Picture Book, or the Eve Pownall Information Book. Every group, and their facilitator, will be supported by a mentor from their state-based CBCA branch.

Shadow judging is an activity where a facilitated group of young people will:

  1. 1Group  with + one facilitator.
  2. 2Read  the six books in one category of books on our 2023 CBCA Book of the Year Awards Shortlist.
  3. 3Share their group’s creative  Responses  to the books online.
  4. 4Vote  collaboratively to nominate a winner in their category. The CBCA Shadowers’ Choice Awards will be announced and celebrated at a brand-new event at the end of 2023 CBCA Book Week.

Facilitator: Each group must have a facilitator who is an adult on site, within a participating organisation. A facilitator will:

  • Coordinate the group’s registration and communications with the CBCA.
  • Provide the space (physically and emotionally), and the resources and guidance for the groups of young people.
  • Share their group’s creative response to the books online.
  • Submit the creative responses of the group to the CBCA website curator
  • Distribute completion certificates to their group participants.

Young voices: Groups can be created from a range of areas across Australia including early childhood centres, schools, home schools, public libraries and community groups.

Mentors: They are adults who will be connected to a Facilitator through their State CBCA Branch. They will support group facilitators with information and strategies for eliciting responses to literature from young voices.

Want to know more about the Sun Project: Shadow Judging?

How many can we have in a group?

Any number up to a class size. We’ve had groups from 3 to 25 in our trials.

How do we form and manage a group?

Groups can be formed within schools, classrooms, libraries, early childhood centres, and community centres. Your group will choose one Book of the Year category. You will need to provide your group copies of the six shortlisted books in their category of choice. Set up meeting schedules in a safe place. You can provide a valuable opportunity for your group by providing them with a creator’s workshop.

Why does a group have to pay a $50 registration fee?

The registration fee contributes to the administration and development of the program and resources, it demonstrates a commitment on behalf of the group to complete the project, and enables groups to be matched to a mentor.

What resources are provided for groups?

All groups will have a supporting mentor and be given access to all the digital resources and support on the Shadow Judging website.

Why has CBCA devised this program?

There are two important reasons for creating this program

  • To amplify the voice of young readers in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards and to talk about Australian children’s books across the nation
  • To collaborate with the children’s book community to support creatives, bookshops and the publishing industry.


Australian children’s literature plays a unique role in our culture. It has the power to shine a light on our world, speaking directly to young people.

By connecting peers, books and creatives, while strengthening their voices, our participants will:

  • build personal aesthetic literary appreciation,
  • be encouraged to imagine, think critically and respond creatively,
  • develop a greater self-concept, empathy and awareness of diverse opinion,
  • read more widely and are twice as likely to read above the level for their age, and
  • absorb culture in a community context by sharing the experience.