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.