U.S. National Awards for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Cynthia Leitich Smith is an author, not an awards coordinator for any U.S. state or national program. If you find a broken link or have any suggestions, please write.

Alex Awards from YALSA. PEEK: “…given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.”

Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults from YALSA. PEEK: “…selects and annotates an annual list of notable audio recordings significant to young adults from those released in the past two years. The name of the list became Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults with the 2009 list and was previously known as Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults.”

American Indian Youth Literature Awards from the American Indian Library Association. PEEK: “…created as a way to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians. Books selected to receive the award present Native Americans in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.”

Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature from The Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) at the Center for Latin America, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: lists criteria and past winners. PEEK: “Up to two awards (for primary and secondary reading levels) are given in recognition of U.S. published works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction (from picture books to works for young adults) that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. By linking the Americas, the intent is to reach beyond geographic borders, as well as multicultural-international boundaries, focusing instead upon cultural heritages within the hemisphere.”

Arab American Book Awards from the Arab American National Museum. PEEK: “…a literary program created to honor books written by and about Arab Americans. The program generates greater awareness of Arab American scholarship and writing through an annual award competition and educational outreach.”

Asian/Pacific American Literature Award from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. PEEK: “…to honor and recognize individual work about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, based on literary and artistic merit.”

A Baker’s Dozen from the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. PEEK: “We consider these 13 titles—a Baker’s Dozen—to be the very best picture books published each year. They fulfill the goals of family literacy programs across the nation: to create lifelong readers and lovers of books; and to start with the youngest audience—preschool children.”

Bank Street Awards from the Bank Street College of Education. PEEK: “One of the most comprehensive annotated book lists for children, aged infant-16. The Committee reviews over 6000 titles each year for accuracy and literary quality and considers their emotional impact on children. It chooses the best 600 books, both fiction and nonfiction, which it lists with annotations, according to age and category.” SEE ALSO The Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Irma Black Award), “which goes to an outstanding book for young children – a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole. The Irma Black Award is unusual in that children are the final judges of the winning book.” SEE ALSO The Cook Prize, which “honors the best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture book published for children aged eight to ten. It is the only national children’s choice award honoring a STEM book.”

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award from ALSC. PEEK: “a citation awarded to an American publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States.” SEE ALSO Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation.

Pura Belpré Award co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Association to Promote Library Services to the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA), an ALA Affiliate. PEEK: “…presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”

Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award from the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). PEEK: “established to honor books that promote the humane ethic of compassion and respect for all living things.”

Best Fiction for Young Adults from YALSA. PEEK: “…presents fiction titles published for young adults in the past 16 months that are recommended reading for ages 12 to 18. The purpose of the annual list it to provide librarians and library workers with a resource to use for collection development and reader’s advisory purposes.”

Amelia Bloomer Project from the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association. PEEK: “…members have determined that the four criteria are vital to the books selected: 1. Significant feminist content; 2. Excellence in writing; 3. Appealing format; 4. Age appropriateness for young readers.”

Boston Globe-Horn Book Award from The Horn Book. PEEK: “Winners are selected in three categories: Picture Book, Fiction and Poetry, and Nonfiction. Two Honor Books may be named in each category. On occasion, a book will receive a special citation for its high quality and overall creative excellence. The winning titles must be published in the United States but they may be written or illustrated by citizens of any country. The awards are chosen by an independent panel of three judges who are annually appointed by the Editor of the Horn Book.”

Caldecott Medal from ALSC. PEEK: “given to the illustrator of the most distinguished picture book for children published in the United States the previous year.”

Children’s Book Awards from the International Literacy Association. PEEK: “…intended for newly published authors who show unusual promise in the children’s and young adults’ book field. Awards are given for fiction and nonfiction in each of three (3) categories: primary, intermediate, and young adult. Books from all countries and published in English for the first time during the…calendar year will be considered.”

Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards from the Children’s Book Council in conjunction with Children’s Book Week. PEEK: “…the only national book awards program where the winners are selected by kids and teens of all ages.”

Children’s Notable Lists from ALSC. PEEK: “…identifies the best of the best in children’s books, recordings, and videos.”

Cybils: children’s and YA bloggers’ literary awards. PEEK: “The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.”

The Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. CYN NOTE: look for the young adult and juvenile categories.

Margaret A. Edwards Award from YALSA. PEEK: “…honors an author as well as a specific body of their work for lifetime contribution in writing books of enduring popularity with teenagers.”

Sid Fleischman Humor Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. PEEK: “…an award for authors whose work exemplifies the excellence of writing in the genre of humor. The SCBWI established the award to honor humorous work, so often overlooked in children’s literature by other award committees. SCBWI reserves the right not to confer this award in any given year.”

(Theodor Seuss) Geisel Medal from ALSC. PEEK: “…honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year.”

Golden Duck Awards for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction Literature from Worldcon. PEEK: “…designed to encourage science fiction literature for children, have been given annually since 1992. The awards are presented every year at Worldcon or the Noth American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC). There are several awards given each year, most carrying a small cash stipend. Winners are selected by a group of teachers, librarians, parents, high tech workers, and reviewers.” CYN NOTE: Categories include picture book, Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Grades (for grades 2 to 6) Hal Clement Award for Young Adult (for grades 6 to 12) and special awards (as needed).

Golden Kite from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. PEEK: “Instituted in 1973, the Golden Kite Awards are the only children’s literary award judged by a jury of peers. More than 1,000 books are entered each year. The Golden Kite Awards recognize excellence in children’s literatures in five categories: Young Reader and Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Book Text, and Picture Book Illustration.” CYN NOTE: SCBWI is an international organization with a large U.S. membership. SEE ALSO the Crystal Kite (Regional) Awards.

The Grateful American Book Prize created by author and publisher David Bruce Smith and Dr. Bruce Cole, the former Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. PEEK: “recognizes excellence in writing, storytelling and illustration for children’s historical non-fiction and fiction focused on events and personalities that have shaped the United States since the country’s founding.”

Dolly Gray Award from the Council For Exceptional Children: Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities. PEEK: “…recognizes books offering positive depictions of children with developmental disabilities.”

Great Graphic Novels for Teens from the Young Adult Library Services Association. PEEK: “…a list of recommended graphic novels and illustrated nonfiction for those ages 12-18.”

Green Earth Book Award from the Newton Marasco Foundation. PEEK: “…the nation’s first environmental stewardship book award for children and young adult books. Each year, an expert jury selects books that best convey the message of environmental stewardship in these categories: Picture Book:  books for young readers in which the visual and verbal narratives tell the story; Children’s Fiction: novels for young readers up to age 12; Young Adult Fiction: books for readers from age 13 to 21; Children’s Nonfiction: nonfiction books for readers from infancy to age 12; Young Adult Nonfiction: nonfiction books for readers from 12 to age 21.”

Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Award from The Junior Master Gardener Program and the American Horticultural Society. PEEK: “…honors engaging and inspiring garden and ecology-themed books for children.”

The Gryphon Award from the Center for Children’s Books at the University of Illinois. PEEK: “…given annually to the author of an outstanding English language work of fiction or non-fiction for which the primary audience is children in Kindergarten through Grade 4. The title chosen best exemplifies those qualities that successfully bridge the gap in difficulty between books for reading aloud to children and books for practiced readers.”

Hugo Awards from the World Science Fiction society. CYN NOTE: YA honored with adult books.

Jane Addams Children’s Book Award from the Jane Addams Peace Association. PEEK: “…given annually to the children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.”

The Coretta Scott King Book Award from the American Library Association. PEEK: “Designed to commemorate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to honor Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards annually recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience.  Further, the Award encourages the artistic expression of the black experience via literature and the graphic arts in biographical, social, and historical treatments by African American authors and illustrators.”

Lambda Literary Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation. PEEK: “…highlighting books by and about the gay and lesbian community.” CYN NOTE: see the children’s/young adult category.

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award from the Pennsylvania Center for the Book. PEEK: “…the best book of children’s poetry published in the United States.”

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award from SCBWI. PEEK: “…recognizes and encourages the publication of an excellent book of poetry or anthology for children and/or young adults. This award is given every three years.”

Mathematical Book Prize from the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). PEEK: “…aims to inspire a love of mathematics in the everyday world in children of all ages. Each year’s winners and honor books join a selective and ever-growing list of new and previously published fiction and non-fiction titles for youth. These titles are as varied as the intersection between literature and mathematics — that is to say, they encompass picture books, novels, poetry collections, puzzle books, biographies, and more! To learn more, visit www.mathicalbooks.org.”

William C. Morris YA Debut Award from YALSA. PEEK: “honors a book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.”

Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature from the Mythopoeic Society. PEEK: “…honors books for beginning readers to age thirteen, in the tradition of THE HOBBIT or THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. Rules for eligibility are otherwise the same as for the Adult literature award. The question of which award a borderline book is best suited for will be decided by consensus of the committees. Books for mature “Young Adults” may be moved to the Adult literature category.”

NAACP Image Awards from the NAACP. PEEK: “…recognized as the Nation’s preeminent multi-cultural awards show from an African American point of view.” CYN NOTE: See Outstanding Literary Work – Children’s and Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens.

National Book Awards from the National Book Foundation. CYN NOTE: See Young People’s Literature.

National Outdoor Book Awards from the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University. CYN NOTE: to recognize outstanding outdoor writing and publishing.

Nebula Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. CYN NOTE: see the Andre Norton Award for YA books.

New England Book Awards: representing 350 bookstores in New England and New York. PEEK: “…All books must be either written by a New England based author or be set in New England.”

Notable Books for a Global Society from the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group of the International Literacy Association. PEEK: “…25 outstanding trade books for enhancing student understanding of people and cultures throughout the world. The committee reviews books representing all genres intended for students K-12.”

The Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction established by Scott O’Dell. PEEK: “The annual award of $5,000 goes to an author for a meritorious book published in the previous year for children or young adults. Scott O’Dell established this award to encourage other writers to focus on historical fiction. He hoped in this way to increase the interest of young readers in the historical background that has helped to shape their country and their world.”

Odyssey Award from ALSC. PEEK: “…given to the producer of the best audio book produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

Outstanding Books for the College Bound from YALSA. PEEK: “updated every five years, this comprehensive list provides reading recommendations to students who plan to continue their education beyond high school.”

Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children from the National Science Teachers Association. PEEK: “…selected as outstanding children’s science trade books. They were chosen by a book review panel appointed by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and assembled in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC). NSTA and CBC have joined forces on this bibliographic project since 1973, when the list was known as Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children and was primarily targeted at grades K through 8. Beginning in 2002, the list has been expanded to include high school as well.”

Parents’ Choice Awards from the Parents’ Choice Association. PEEK: “The Parents’ Choice Awards committee members hail from families across the country. Our product evaluation process is lengthy and comprehensive. It’s a multi-tiered process with its roots in a four page questionnaire that queries developmentally appropriate content and challenges, the product’s design and function, the educational value, long-term play value, and the benefits to a child’s social and emotional growth and well being.”

(Michael L.) Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature from YALSA. PEEK: “…annually honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit, each year. In addition, the Printz Committee names up to four honor books, which also represent the best writing in young adult literature.”

Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults from YALSA. PEEK: “… books to encourage young adults to read for pleasure. The lists of popular or topical titles are widely available in paperback and represent a broad variety of accessible themes and genres.”

Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers from YALSA. PEEK: “…identifies titles aimed at encouraging reading among teens who dislike to read for whatever reason. The list selects both fiction and nonfiction.”

Readers’ Choice from YALSA. PEEK: “…list seeks to engage a wide audience of librarians, educators, teens and young adult literature enthusiasts in choosing the most popular teen titles in a given year, as organized by broad genres.  The list will also provide librarians with a timely means of identifying popular teen titles on an ongoing basis.”

Reading The World Award from the Reading the World Conference. PEEK: “…given to an individual in recognition of outstanding contributions in making quality literature accessible to children and young adults. Our goal is to recognize and applaud those who have enriched the lives of children through multicultural literature.”

RWA’s RITA award

RITA Award for Young Adult Romance from the Romance Writers of America. CYN NOTE: see the Young Adult Romance category.

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal from ALSC. PEEK: “awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in English during the preceding year.”

Schneider Family Book Awards from ALSC. PEEK: “…honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

Science Communications Award from the American Institute of Physics. PEEK: “Entries must be in the form of books, news or feature stories, multimedia or Web content created specifically for children 15 years old or younger.

Stonewall Book Awards from GLBTRT: A Round Table of the American Library Association. CYN NOTE: see Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award.

South Asia Book Award: sponsored by the South Asia National Outreach Consortium. PEEK: “To encourage and commend authors and publishers who produce such books, and to provide librarians and teachers with recommendations for educational use, the South Asia National Outreach Consortium (SANOC) will offer a yearly book award to call attention to outstanding works on South Asia.”

Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America. PEEK: “…honors writers for distinguished writing about the American West with the Spur Awards. Since 1953 the Spur Awards have been considered one of the most prestigious awards in American literature.” CYN NOTE: see Best Juvenile Fiction and Nonfiction.

Sydney Taylor Book Awards from the Association of Jewish Libraries. PEEK: “…presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.” CYN NOTE: see Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers.

Teens’ Top Ten from YALSA. PEEK: “…teen choice award given to selected current publications that are of special interest to teens. Teens vote for their choices each Teen Read Week. The votes are tallied and the list is available each November.”

Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award from Southwest Texas State University. PEEK: “…to honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience. It is named in honor of Texas State University distinguished alumnus Dr. Tomás Rivera.”

Triple Crown Awards from the National Christian School Association. PEEK: “Encouraging elementary and junior high students to read wholesome and uplifting books since 1992.” CYN NOTE: see Gallery, Crown, and Lamplighter categories.

Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction from The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). PEEK: “…for a book that exemplifies literary excellence, widespread appeal, and a positive approach to life in young adult literature.”

Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature from We Need Diverse Books. PEEK: “…celebrates the legacy of author Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014). Myers served as the third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (2012-2013), authored over a hundred titles, and won countless awards, including two Newbery Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, the Michael L. Printz Award, and was a three-time National Book Award finalist. Throughout his prolific, lauded career, Myers was a life-long champion of diversity in children’s and young adult books. Inaugurated in 2016, the annual Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature recognize diverse authors (or co-authors) whose works feature diverse main characters and address diversity in a meaningful way. Two to four Honor Books are also named annually.”

Washington Post/Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award from the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C. PEEK: “…honors authors or illustrators whose total work has contributed significantly to the quality of nonfiction for children.”

Westchester Fiction Award founded by Suzanne Osman, a teacher-librarian for the Los Angels Unified School District in Los Angeles, California. PEEK: “…honors talented authors who contribute exemplary literature to the oung Adult literary canon and the visionary publishers who bring their texts to life.”

Western Heritage Awards from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

E.B. White Read Aloud Award from ABC Children’s Group of the American Booksellers Association. PEEK: “honor books that reflect the universal read aloud standards that were created by the work of the author E.B. White in his classic books for children: CHARLOTTE’S WEB, STUART LITTLE, and THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN. In 2006, in recognition of the fact that reading aloud is a pleasure at any age, the award was expanded into two categories: Picture Books, and Older Readers.”

Whitney Awards, founded  founded in 2007 and “operate as an semi-autonomous subsidiary of LDStorymakers. PEEK: “an awards program for novels by LDS authors…we have only required that the author be a member of the LDS church. All other factors such as content, language, and craft, are to be judged by each individual person voting in the award process.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from ALSC. PEEK: “…honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

Carter G. Woodson Book Awards from the National Council of Social Studies. PEEK: “…for the most distinguished social science books appropriate for young readers that depict ethnicity in the United States. The purpose of this award is to encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social science books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and relations sensitively and accurately. At the time, there was a paucity of books relating to racial and ethnic minorities. In addition, authors and publishers of such books rarely received the recognition that their efforts merited. ”

Charlotte Zolotow Award from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, a library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. PEEK: “…presented annually to the author of the best picture book text published in the preceding year.” SEE ALSO Interview: Ginny Moore Kruse on the Charlotte Zolotow Award from CYALR.

Resources

ETHNIC BOOK AWARDS by Sherry York (Linworth, 2005). PEEK: “A unique resource for Americas, Asian Pacific American, Carter G. Woodson, Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpre, Sydney Taylor, and Tomas Rivera Awards.”

YALSA Book and Media Awards from the Young Adult Library Services Association.