2021 Youth Media Awards

As we gear up for ALA Midwinter and the 2021 Youth Media Awards (YMA), we thought it could be fun to highlight a few YMA-related stories. In the coming weeks, we’ll focus on those titles from the past and present award cycles that might inspire you and your readers!

But first, a reminder: you can follow along with the Youth Media Awards announcements starting at 8 am CT on Monday, January 25. You can watch with ALA’s streaming platform or through the various social media platforms using the hashtag #alayma.

To begin our dive into these special awards, let’s look at the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Established in 2000, this award is granted each year to the “best book written for teens, based entirely on literary merit.” Mike Printz was a high school librarian for years, and he believed wholeheartedly in finding the right book for the right reader at the right time. In honor of 20 years of service to young adult readers, here are a few then and now connections:

Continue reading 2021 Youth Media Awards

A Small Smorgasbord of Scandinavian YA Lit

Photo courtesy of jari
Photo courtesy of jari

Over the past several years, Scandinavian and Scandinavian-influenced culture seems to be popping up everywhere.  We’ve seen this during the past six to eight years in the popularity of authors such as the Swedish Stieg Larsson, who wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, and the Norwegian Jo Nesbø, who writes the Harry Hole series.  Over the past few years you or someone you know has definitely played “Angry Birds,” a game app created by Finnish company Rovio Entertainment.  (I admit that I myself facilitated an “Angry Birds” pom-pom craft at my library.)  Recently, the movie Frozen, based in part on 19th century Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Snow Queen, took over the box office. To bring it back to young adult literature, the 2014 Printz Award and a Printz Honor went to two novels with Scandinavian settings, respectively Midwinterblood by the British writer Marcus Sedgwick and The Kingdom of Little Wounds by American Susann Cokal.

So this all inspired me to find out what’s been written in the past few years by  Scandinavian YA authors.  Read on for a sampling of recent popular and award-winning titles – feel free to serve yourself!

erlings boy on the edgeFrom Iceland:

Boy on the Edge by Fridrik Erlings (sometimes written as “Erlingsson’) is the story of Henry, a teen who stutters, has a clubfoot and is almost illiterate.  A growing rage has also developed inside him and one day he lashes out physically at his mother.  As a result, he’s sent to live at the “Home of Lesser Brethren,” a farm on a lava field on the Icelandic coast.  Henry finds that he really enjoys working with the animals there, and this along with the compassion of the wife of the reverend who runs the farm somewhat lessens the difficulty of his new environment.  Henry’s desperate desire to make friends affects his actions, sometimes for the worse, but sometimes for the better, such as when he becomes interested in reading and writing.  This novel is based on the author’s actual relationship with the real Henry.  Continue reading A Small Smorgasbord of Scandinavian YA Lit

Get Inspired: Journaling in YA Literature

journaling_ya_lit_credit_Fredrik Rubensson_outlineI’ve kept a journal on and off for years.  Well, mostly off– but I would like to write more regularly.  I believe that the first key to journaling is to set aside a certain time each day to write and stick to it.  Sometimes that time is hard to find when you are working and/or in school full time.  But now that it’s summer, if you’re someone who has a couple months off and a little extra time, this may be the perfect time for you to start a journal.  And please tell me if you do, because that will inspire me to spend more time on mine!

With inspiration in mind, I wanted to recommend a few current and classic YA novels which are either written as journals or include journal entries.


ramsey beyer little fishLittle Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer (2014  Outstanding Books for the College Bound List, Arts and Humanities)

Just before and during her first year at undergraduate art school, Ramsey Beyer kept a record of her experiences, including a Livejournal blog and a series of zines which included her own lists and illustrations.

Ten years later she published Little Fish, a compulsively readable memoir that pulls together these materials, including many of her original journal entries, and combines them with reflections from her older self.  As Beyer writes in this memoir, it is her account of how she left the farming town of Paw Paw, Michigan and “…made the leap, packed up my life, and moved to Baltimore – mixed in with the awkward college freshman experience.” Continue reading Get Inspired: Journaling in YA Literature

Reading the Book before the Movie or Show: Pros, Cons, & Bragging Rights

by flickr user o5com
by flickr user o5com

Young adult and adult novels make it to the big (and little) screen fairly often these days.  So, just how smug should you feel when you have already read the book? There is no easy answer – so to tackle this issue I have broken down the movie/show tie-ins into categories.

The Book Series Made into a Show

You can feel superior, but do tread lightly as you enter this murky zone.   When translating a series of novels into a series of shows major plot elements are likely to be changed to allow for the continuity of the show.  Examples of the book series made into a show include Pretty Little Liars (based on the series by Sara Shepard), Gossip Girl (based on the series by Cecily Von Ziegesar; a 2003 Quick Pick & 2009 Popular Paperback for Young Adults), The Walking Dead (based on the graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore), and Game of Thrones (Based on the “Song of Fire and Ice” books by George R.R. Martin.)

walking dead
walking dead

  • Pros of pre-reading the book series made into a show:

1) You read the books, you loved them…you watch the show and get more!  You can translate your book reading experience into an on-going show and keep the story alive after the series is over and/or whilst you await (impatiently) for the next book.

2) Deviations from the book make for some fun and unexpected surprises.  You thought you knew all there was to know about white walkers in George RR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series… but after watching the HBO show– what?!

  • Cons of pre-reading the book series made into a show:

1) Deviations from the book make for some shocking unexpected surprises.  Yes, this is both a pro and a con.  These changes may call into question your precognitive skills.  For example AMC’s Walking Dead’s many plot changes as compared to the graphic novel series.

  • Bragging rights earned from pre-reading the book series made into a show:

Monday morning talk when there was a Sunday night cliffhanger: does <insert character name> die?  Then they look your way: do you know?  Oh, yeah.  Continue reading Reading the Book before the Movie or Show: Pros, Cons, & Bragging Rights

Where in the World is the Printz?

Printz Award winning books have been set all over the world. Below is a map showing approximate locations for many of the Printz winners. Can you guess which books are set in the different locations? The answers are below.

worldmap-worldmap-photos-wallpapers-galleries-full-hd_50290fb555fd4 (1)


*Only one section of the book is set in this location.

Before you look at the answers, think about the books you are reading this year. Any great settings?  If you have read something spectacular, consider suggesting it for the 2015 Printz Award. Take us somewhere wonderful!
Continue reading Where in the World is the Printz?

One Book, Many Lists

I’m fascinated by list crossover. The ones I usually look for are the ones that are on both the YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults (“both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens”) and YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (“titles aimed at encouraging reading among teens who dislike to read or whatever reason”). Good quality literature, appealing, and encouraging reading? Awesome!

I also take a look at what appears on these lists as well as ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books (“the best of the best in children’s books”); the titles that are honored both by YALSA and ALSC are those that fall in the overlap between the two, or books aimed at readers ages 12 to 14.

I’m also going to note the Printz and Newbery Award and Honor books; and the Morris and the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Awards and Finalists, as well as that nominated list; and the Sibert Award and Honor Books. Additional criteria are at the websites for the lists.

If I’ve missed something, let me know. Because these lists use different eligibility years, it gets a bit tricky: a few titles from last year’s lists also appeared on this year’s lists. Also? Different lists are ordered differently (e.g., author versus title, nonfiction may not always be in a different section).

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Continue reading One Book, Many Lists

Best Fiction for Young Adults vs. Printz

Probably my favorite YALSA book list is one that we didn’t mention in our Youth Media Awards wrap-up last week (because it wasn’t put out until after the YMAs): the Best Fiction for Young Adults list (BFYA). BFYA has been around for just two years, but it evolved from the Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA), the only difference being that the current list excludes nonfiction, graphic novels and nonfiction, and adult fiction. The BFYA/BBYA provides a list of “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.”

The full list is often in the range of 100 books, but the committee also produces a Top Ten list. There are, of course, huge differences in the function and purpose of the BYFA Top Ten list and the Printz Award, but both are essentially looking for the very best YA books of the year, so I thought it would be interesting to compare the lists. This year, I was surprised that only one book was listed by both committees (The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater), so I thought I’d look at past years to see the overlap between the lists. It turns out that there has actually never been substantial overlap between the lists.

Looking at the overall numbers, in the 13 years of the Printz Award, the BBYA/BFYA committees have put 29% of Printz Award and Honor winners on their Top Ten lists, but this number is heavily skewed by the 2007 list which contained 4 of the 5 Printz titles. Only four other years had as many as two books overlap, and twice (2001 and 2010) no books overlapped.*

Continue reading Best Fiction for Young Adults vs. Printz

Youth Media Awards wrap-up

Monday was a big, big day for young adult literature. After months of speculation, Mock Printz committees, posts about the finalists for the William C. Morris and Excellence in Nonfiction Awards, and tons and tons and tons of reading by dedicated committee members, the ALA’s Youth Media Awards were announced at the Midwinter Conference in Dallas.

One of my favorite things about being a young adult librarian is the incredible sense of community that’s grown up about libraries and young adult literature, and the YMAs were a perfect example. I wasn’t able to be in Dallas this year, but luckily for me and other librarians, publishers, and YA and children’s lit fans around the world, the announcements were streamed live (in fact, you can watch the archived announcements and videos by some of the honored authors and illustrators on the YMA’s YouTube Channel).

I watched the announcements in one window and had Twitter up in another. There was plenty of buzz on Twitter–so much so that #alayma was trending for more than an hour! Lots of author names and book titles also trended following the announcement of each award. If you haven’t had the chance before, I highly recommend watching the announcements live if you can. It’s so great to hear the audience erupt in cheers when the winners are announced, and if you’re anything like me, you might find yourself cheering along. Being a reader of and writer for the Hub made this year’s awards especially fun for me. I’d read four of the five Morris finalists (two of which won other awards–including the Printz!), something which I might not have done were it not for The Hub.

Here’s the complete list of all the awards given in young adult literature. The name of each award will link to the award’s page on the ALA website, where you can learn about the history and see a complete list of winners. If The Hub did any coverage of a book before its big win, I’ve linked to that too. Enjoy!

Continue reading Youth Media Awards wrap-up

ALA Youth Media Awards live blogging

Join YALSA with LIVE streaming video of all the YMA announcement, presented jointly by the YALSA Blog and The Hub. Along with the video, we’ll also be offering quick polls and pulling Twitter hashtags like #printz and #alexawards. You can log in to the live session with your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or OpenID username (which will include your avatar), or just jump right in.

YALSA Blog“>YALSA Blog manager mk Eagle (username pandanose) will be offering transcriptions of all the announcements, with live video from The Hub blogger Jessica Pryde. Coverage begins at 7:30 central on Monday, January 23.

Stay Tuned for ALA Literature Coverage

As thousands of librarians descend on Dallas ALA Midwinter, stay tuned to The Hub for all the young adult literature news. Find out what teens are talking about at the BFYA Teen Session.  Hear what John Green has to say during his appearance at the Dallas Public Library.  Most importantly, discover the YMA news here first!  Even if you can’t be a part of the action, you won’t have to miss a second of it, with coverage from The Hub.

Keep up with other conference news at the YALSA Blog and by following the #yalsa#alamw12#bfya, #alayma and #bestofyalit hashtags on twitter.