Youth Media Awards

Being an avid reader and writer of YA fiction, I get really excited about the announcement of the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards. It’s actually a bigger deal to me than the Academy Awards, Emmys, Oscars, Grammys, and just about any other awards ceremony you can think of.

I love the awards not only because of the contagious anticipation felt by librarians across the country (#alayma was trending for a few hours on Twitter last Monday), but also because it alerts me to books and authors that may not have been on my radar. And, the awards give me great recommendations in multiple formats. Want an audiobook? Check out an Odyssey winner. Graphic novel? Try one of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens — the list includes both fiction and nonfiction titles. (Okay, a spot on the list isn’t an official award, but it’s still a nod of approval, and I trust it for reader’s advisory.)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the awards, here’s the rundown on my favorites. These are just the ones given by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), but you can find the whole list of awards and their winners on ALA’s website.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods. Alex Awards

These go to the ten best adult books that will appeal to a teen audience. (Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, the amazing audiobook I just finished and highly recommend, won this in 2012. Apparently even the adult books I read are teen books in disguise.)

2014 Winners:

  • Brewster by Mark Slouka
  • The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
  • Golden Boy: A Novel by Abigail Tarttelin
  • Help for the Haunted by John Searles
  • Lexicon: A Novel by Max Barry
  • Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu
  • Mother, Mother: A Novel by Koren Zailckas
  • Relish by Lucy Knisley
  • The Sea of Tranquility: A Novel by Katja Millay
  • The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

Edwards Award

This award honors an author for his or her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.” This year the Edwards went to Markus Zusak for The Book ThiefFighting Ruben WolfeGetting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger.

Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature

Midwinterblood. This is awarded to “the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit, each year.” Popular past winners include John Green’s Looking for Alaska and Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker. My biggest secret (well, not so secret anymore) ambition is to write a Printz winner.

The 2014 Printz Award went to Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. 2014 Printz Honor books include Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell; Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal; Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch; and Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool.

Nonfiction Award

The Nazi Hunters.This is a YALSA award rather than a Youth Media Award, but I thought I’d include it in this post. The award honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults during a November 1 to October 31 publishing year.

The 2014 Nonfiction Award went to The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb. Finalists include Chip Kidd’s Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, Martin W. Sandler’s Imprisoned: The Betrayal of  Japanese Americans During World War II, Tanya Lee Stone’s Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers, and James L. Swanson’s The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Odyssey Award

This award is given to the “best audiobook produced for children or young adults, available in English in the United States.” I like to boast that I was listening to last year’s Odyssey winner, “The Fault in Our Stars” (written by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd, and produced by Brilliance Audio), as the award was being announced.

Scowler. The 2014 Odyssey winner is “Scowler,” written by Daniel Kraus, narrated by Kirby Heyborne, and produced by Listening Library. 2014 Honor Recordings include “Better Nate Than Ever,” written by Time Federle, narrated by Tim Federle, and produced by Simon and Schuster Audio; “Creepy Carrots!” written by Aaron Reynolds, narrated by James Naughton, and produced by Weston Woods Studios, Inc.; “Eleanor & Park,” written by Rainbow Rowell narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra, and produced by Listening Library; and “Matilda,” written by Roald Dahl, narrated by Kate Winslet, and produced by Penguin Audio.

William C. Morris YA Debut Award

This award “honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.”

Charm & Strange. The 2014 Morris Award went to Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn. This year’s finalists include Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian, Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos, Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross, and In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.

If you’re interested in earning some street cred or boasting about how many great YA books you’ve read/listened to (or you just want to talk teen books), YALSA hosts an annual Hub Reading Challenge for all lovers of YA lit — librarians, teachers, parents, teens, and anyone else who wants to participate! The rules are simple: between Monday, February 3 and Sunday, June 22, read or listen to at least 25 of the YA award winners in the format for which they won the award. Everyone who completes the challenge is entered into a random drawing to win a bunch of YA books.

Now that I’ve drooled over — er, admired — all these great YA books, I’m going to get back to Charm & Strange. As usual, every book I was on the waiting list for has magically come in at once. #Librarianproblems

Happy reading!


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