The criteria used to evaluate books for the Sydney Taylor Book Award are:
- The book has literary merit.
- The book has positive and authentic Jewish religious or cultural content.
- The book is appropriate for the intended grade level in style, vocabulary, format, and illustration.
- Whether fiction or nonfiction, the book is solidly rooted in authentic and accurate detail through scholarship and research by the author.
- Particular attention will be paid to titles that demonstrate the broad diversity of the Jewish experience, including diversity of time period and country of origin.
- Textbooks, liturgy, and reprints are not eligible. Significantly revised editions and re-illustrated editions are eligible.
- Books must be commercially available for purchase in order to be eligible.
- Self-published books are not eligible. The author/illustrator must not have paid any money to the publisher. The book must be edited by a professional editor at no cost to the author/illustrator. The publisher must publish books by multiple authors.
- Books must be published in English (whether originally in English or in translation).
- If the same book is published in English in multiple countries, the first version submitted will be considered for the award. Other versions then become ineligible.
Please note that Jewish content is necessary for a book to be eligible for the Sydney Taylor Book Award but Jewish authorship is not.