“3 On A YA Theme” is sponsored by Ever The Brave by Erin Summerill .
The end of the year is not just the holiday season; it’s also book award season. Starting from about September on through February or so, the bulk of the year’s honors for best books make their way out. For many readers, the awards mean nothing; for other readers, they plan entire reading challenges around sneaking in as many of those award-designated books as possible.
We might be familiar with the big name awards—The National Book Award, the Man Booker, the Pulitzer—but what about the awards specifically designated for young adult literature? Certainly, the National Book Award has a category for Young Readers Literature, which encompasses books for those published for the under-18 audience, but there are many other big honors to know geared toward YA lit.
This is far from a comprehensive round-up, but it’s a small glimpse into some of the biggest honors YA lit can earn. Below, you’ll find a short explanation of the award, along with the most recent winner of the honor.
The Michael L. Printz Award (The Printz)
The Printz is given out once a year at the American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting, which happens in late January or early February.
The Printz began in 2000, with the first title being honored being Walter Dean Myers’s Monster. The 2017 winner of the award was March: Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. A complete list of winners and honor titles is available here.
The William C Morris Debut YA Award (The Morris)
The Morris award can also recognize up to four honor titles, and the short list of titles is typically released in early December. The award winner is named at the American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting.
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce won the first Morris award in 2009, and in 2016, the winning title was Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King. Many YA readers may be familiar with other winners of this award, including Becky Albertalli, who won for Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and Isabel Quintero, who won for Gabi, A Girl in Pieces.
The Odyssey Award
As noted on the award’s website, the reason behind the name of the award is as follows: “The story of the wanderings of Ulysses, as he returns to his kingdom of Ithaca after the Trojan War, are ascribed to the blind poet Homer who either wrote, or dictated, the epic poem called The Odyssey. Whether this odyssey of Ulysses was based on one specific event, or many different ones, is argued by researchers today, though they all seem to agree that the poems comprising The Odyssey were originally told and retold in the oral tradition, hence the name for this award. The Odyssey Award allows us to return to the ancient roots of storytelling, while living in our modern world.”
The Odyssey award has been handed out since 2008, with the first winner being Jazz by Walter Dean Myers and narrated by James “D-Train” Williams and Vaneese Thomas. The most recent winner of the Odyssey was Anna and The Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit, and narrated by Allan Corduner.
The Excellence in Nonfiction For Young Adults Award (ENYA)
The first winner of the ENYA was Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman, and the most recent winner was March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (which, as noted above, also won the Printz award).
Other Awards for Young Adult Books
Writing a complete guide to awards that honor YA books would be impossible, but pulling together links to learn more about a handful of additional awards is not. Click below to learn about some of the incredible honors available to YA books and maybe even add a book or two—or a reading challenge of award-winning books—to your TBR and TBR plans.
- The National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
- The Edgar Awards for YA Literature (honoring mysteries)
- The RITA Award for YA Books (honoring romance)
- The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
- The Stoker Award for Young Adult Fiction (honoring horror)
- The Agatha Award for Young Adult Fiction (honoring mysteries in Agatha Christie’s style)
- The National Jewish Book Awards and The Sydney Taylor Book Award
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