The Burt Award for African Literature is a literary prize that recognizes excellence in young adult fiction from Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya and recently in the Caribbean and Canada. Sponsored by CODE and made possible by the generosity of William Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation, the Award addresses an ongoing shortage of relevant, quality books for young people in Africa, while at the same time promoting a love of reading and learning.

The Award consists of up to three cash prizes totaling $21,000 CAD for winning authors and a publishing contract for winning publishers. The award for the publishers include a guaranteed book purchase and distribution programme ensuring that winning titles are distributed to CODE-supported schools and libraries throughout these countries. Winning titles are eligible for international publication as eBooks.

The Burt Award for African Literature is supported in part by IBBY Canada. Members of IBBY are nominated to act as jurors in the Award process. IBBY’s role has recently been expanded to include workshop facilitation for emerging and experienced writers and publishers of youth fiction in Africa.


The Burt Award for African Literature is administered in Ghana by the Ghana Book Trust (GBT).

Objectives of the Award

  • To recognize excellence in young adult fiction.
  • To support and motivate the development of supplementary reading materials for a critical stage of learning – the transition period between mother tongue and English medium instruction.
  • To strengthen the English language skills of youth and help foster enthusiasm and love for reading.
  • To stimulate and support the Ghanaian publishing industry and the development of Ghanaian literature.
  • To increase the stock of English readers in established school libraries and community libraries.

Process to Select the Winning Titles:

Manuscripts are evaluated and judged on an individual basis. Each year there is a week-long deliberation process to determine winning submissions.


Six professionals are involved in judging submissions. The jury is made up of five Ghanaians and one Canadian. The jury members are carefully selected on the basis of their knowledge and expertise in the areas of youth literature, linguistics, publishing and writing.

The Canadian jury member is selected by IBBY Canada to join the Ghanaian Burt Award jury. In addition to judging manuscripts, the Canadian jury member supports writers and editors in Ghana by co-facilitating workshops for writers and editors to help them focus on the key considerations and skills in writing specifically for youth.

Prizes and Guaranteed Purchase of Titles

Writers win monetary awards of CAD$9,000 for the first prize, CAD$7,000 for the second prize and CAD$5,000 for the third prize. Publishers receive a guaranteed purchase of 3,000 copies of each title which is distributed to schools and libraries in their respective countries. Publishers print an additional 2,000 copies to market and sell commercially. The publishers also have the option of reprinting the winning titles is there is a further demand for them.

Distribution of Books to Schools and Community Libraries

To make the books accessible to readers, the Ghana Book Trust distributes the titles to schools and community libraries throughout the country. In addition, GBT facilitates the use of these materials in schools and the greater community through activities such as the authors’ speaking events, essay writing contests and radio dramatizations of the titles.

Writers’ and Editors’ Workshops

To support the production of excellent literature for the youth, the Burt Award helps to develop writers’ skills in Ghana by providing workshops for aspiring and emerging writers. The workshops, held for writers, are designed to address the need to develop writers’ skills in producing fiction specifically for youth. The Editors’ workshops are conducted to encourage editors to focus on areas that would eventually produce well considered books.