Fans of kidlit and YA everywhere crowded around their computer screens as the American Library Association (ALA) announced its 2015 youth media award winners from a live webcast at their annual midwinter conference. At the conference, librarians cheered and occasionally rose to a standing ovation as title after title, many diverse, were named award winners.
The last to be announced but undoubtedly one of the highest honors the ALA can award, the John Newberry Award, given to the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature, went to The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming was named one of two Newberry Honor Books.
THE NEWBERY AWARD WAS COMPLETELY DIVERSE!!!! #WeNeedDiverseBooks is changing the world!!!!
— Ellen Oh (@elloecho) February 2, 2015
Many considered this to be the year of Brown Girl Dreaming. In addition to the Newberry, Brown Girl Dreaming was named an Sibert Honor Book as one of the most distinguished informational books for children, alongside The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & The Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming. Woodson won the Coretta Scott King Book Award, recognizing an African American author or illustrator of outstanding books. Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover was named a King Author Honor book as well, along with Marilyn Nelson’s How I Discovered Poetry and Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down.
But for YA fans, the award to watch for was the Michael L. Printz award, which acknowledges excellence in literature written for young adults. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, which has earned much critical acclaim over the past year, was named the 2015 winner. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard, The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith and This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki won the titles of Printz Honor Books.
— Elizabeth Eulberg (@ElizEulberg) February 2, 2015
Forgive me, but I just absolutely can not believe this. I will stare at this all day. pic.twitter.com/goly4rO5kW — Andrew Smith (@marburyjack) February 2, 2015
— Dahlia Adler (@MissDahlELama) February 2, 2015
Next to the Printz, the William C. Morris Award garnered the most excitement and discussion from the YA community this year. The Morris Award honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. Many, like former librarian and writer Kelly Jensen, thought the books fitting the Morris Award qualifications were far more exciting than the potential Printz nominees. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, a novel about a “
a gordita a fatgirl a girl in pieces,” won. Four finalists were named: The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston, The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton.
For the first time, a young adult graphic novel was named an honor book for the Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book. This One Summer, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki and written by Mariko Tamaki, was named a Caldecott Honor Book title in addition to its Printz Honor Book title.
— First Second (@01FirstSecond) February 2, 2015
The Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe New Talent Author Award went to When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds.
— Jason Reynolds (@JasonReynolds83) February 2, 2015
For books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience, the Schneider Family Book Award named Girls Like Us by Gail Giles its teen award winner.
The Alex Awards named the top ten best books to appeal to teen audience: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, Bingo’s Run by James A. Levine, Confessions by Kanae Minato, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Lock In by John Scalzi, The Martian by Andy Weir, The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice by Zak Ebrahim, Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta and Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle.
Sharon M. Draper was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Draper is the author of over 20 books for teens, including Tears of a Tiger and November Blues.
The Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award named Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin and I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson as honor books.
The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults went to Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by teen author Maya Van Wagenen. Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming, Ida M. Tarbell: The Women Who Changed Big Business – And Won! by Emily Arnold McCully, and The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Muting, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin were named finalists.
For more information on the awards, visit the ALA’s website.