How to Host a YMA Viewing Party

yma-2013-alertWith less than a week to go until the Youth Media Awards (YMAs) are announced, it’s time to get serious about your plans for the morning of Monday, January 28. If you’re lucky enough to be at Midwinter, you can skip the rest of this post: obviously you’ll be at the announcements in person. If, like me, you couldn’t make it to Midwinter, don’t worry! You can still celebrate the biggest day of the year in children’s and YA literature. I’ve got you covered. Here are the basic ingredients for hosting your own YMA viewing party.

The Live Stream

Until recently, librarians and other children’s/YA lit fans who couldn’t make it to Midwinter had to wait until the awards press releases came out to find out if their favorite books had been recognized. For the last few years, though, ALA has done something awesome: a live stream of the announcements from the conference center where the convention is being held. In the past, the stream has only been available to the first 10,000 or 12,500 to log on. But on January 17, ALA announced that this year’s webcast has unlimited virtual seats.


Every good party has to have food, and the more you can tie it to a book, an award, an author, or something YMA-related, the better! Almost anything counts as inspiration, and puns are definitely encouraged. For example: serve up some emily m. “danish-forth” pastries in honor of the author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post (groan, sorry!). Or serve something bird-shaped in celebration of Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose. Maybe your personal pick for the Printz is set in another country or another time period that has distinctive food — go for it!


It’s not an awards season without a chance to show off your knowledge about the awards and the contenders. Here are a couple of ideas for games that give you and your guests a chance to show off your award-picking prowess!

  • Make a ballot

    The Awards Show classic — what Oscar party doesn’t have a ballot? You can find the list of every award announced at the YMAs on ALA’s website (scroll to the bottom of the page). Make a blank ballot for every person coming to your party and have them fill in their guesses before the ceremony starts. This is easier for some awards than it is for others, since some awards (like the Morris Award and the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults) have shortlists.

    Not up to date on the best in this year’s picture books? You can easily limit your ballot to just the awards administered by YALSA (the Alex Award, the Edwards Award, the Morris Award, the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, the Odyssey Award, and of course, the Printz Award). When the announcements are over, tally up your correct guesses and give a prize (a coveted ARC, maybe?) to the person with the most right answers.

  • Favorite book bingo

    Print up copies of this blank bingo card and pass them out to your guests before the announcements start. Have people fill the squares with titles they consider top contenders (again, the shortlists make this a little easier). When a book wins an award or an honor, cross off the square; the first person to bingo wins. ARCs make a great prize, but another option is to charge a small entry fee and then use the pot to buy a copies of the winning books for your contestants or for a local library.


Someone to share your enthusiasm with is probably the most important part of a YMA party. If you’re a librarian and you work in a system with more than one youth services person, host a viewing party in your office (or someone else’s) for all interested staff members. If you have the day off, invite your friends — librarian or otherwise — over for the games and food described above. Or if you’re at home and your fellow YA lit fan friends are working, take to Twitter and follow the hashtag #alaYMA. Last year it was a nationwide trending topic during the announcements. The other YA lit lovers on Twitter might not be there to share your themed treats or play a game, but the excitement on Twitter is contagious and it feels like a party, even at 8 in the morning.

Whether you decide to celebrate virtually or in the real world, mark next Monday morning on your calendar and get ready to cheer the 2013 YMAs!

— Emily Calkins, currently reading I Hunt Killers and getting ready to tweet like crazy during the YMAs