ALSC/Booklist/YALSA Odyssey Award Eligibility & Criteria

Please note that the content included on this webpage is a summary. More complete information on the Odyssey award and the work of the selection committee can be found in the Odyssey Award Manual.


The ALSC/Booklist/YALSA Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production shall be awarded annually to the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults.

  • All literary genres are eligible for consideration, including read-alongs (book + audio productions). The award considers solely the audio production of the title.
  • The audiobook must be available for school and public libraries to purchase as an institution for the purposes of lending, as well as consumer use.
  • The committee will consider and vote on titles published within their assigned calendar year, January 1 to October 31, in addition to those published between November 1 and December 31 of the previous year. A title may only be submitted once and cannot be reconsidered the next year. Note that committee member terms begin immediately following Midwinter in January, and thus incoming members will listen to titles that had been released in the two months preceding their term of service.
  • Publication date is considered the first U.S. release to the public for purchase, whether download, CD, MP3, or other audio format.
  • The recipient of the award is the producer of the first U.S. release of the title.
  • Audiobooks produced previously in another audio format are ineligible for consideration.
  • The audiobook is intended for either young adults or children, who are defined as persons up to and including age eighteen; works for this entire age range are eligible. Adult titles are ineligible.
  • Audiobooks featuring single or multiple narrators are eligible.
  • Audiobooks previously published in another country are eligible (presuming a U.S. edition has been published during the period of eligibility).
  • “In English” means only audiobooks produced in English are eligible, but this requirement does not limit the use of words or phrases in another language where appropriate in context.
  • If no title is deemed sufficiently meritorious, the award will not be presented.
  • The chair, with assistance from designated ALSC or YALSA staff and the Booklist consultant, is responsible for verifying the eligibility of all nominated titles.
  • The award will be presented to the producer of the winning and/or honor audiobooks.


The literary merit is part of an excellent audiobook, it is not what creates the unified whole of the completely unique literary experience provided by an audiobook.  For that experience, the following criteria are essential:

General Guidelines

This award recognizes excellence by a producer or director for accomplishment and/or innovation in the production of an audio program. The winning title must exemplify the highest standards of direction, narration, engineering, and technical achievement.

  • Popularity is not the criterion for this award nor is the award based on the message or content of the book on which it is based.

  • The committee must consider technical and aesthetic aspects, including the effective use of narration as well as music and sound effects when they are incorporated into the production. These elements must come together to create a unified whole.

  • The audio must maintain and stimulate listeners’ interest.

  • Production Qualities

    • Narration
      • Does the reader (or readers) have good voice quality, diction, and timing? Is the reader (or readers) believable and convincing?
      • Does the reader (or readers) distinguish between characters by changing pitch, tone, and inflection? Are accents or dialects used and if so, are they handled authentically and consistently?
      • Are all words, including proper nouns, locales, non-English terms, character names, and others pronounced correctly and consistently?
      • Does the reader (or readers) avoid condescending vocal mannerisms and style and is the reading believable and convincing?
      • Is the performance dynamic and does it reflect the expressive nature of the text?
    • Sound Quality
      • Is the sound sharp and clear with no obvious humming, distortion, or electronic interference?
      • Does the sound quality remain consistent throughout the recording?
    • Background Music and Sound Effects
      • If music and sound effects are used, do they enhance the text and support the vocal performance?
      • Does the music represent the emotional and structural content of the text?
  • Overall Rating

    The sum of all the criteria should represent the highest achievement in audiobooks for children and/or young adults, including

    • excellence in narration;
    • excellence of audio interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
    • excellence of execution in the aural techniques of the medium;
    • excellence in the delineation through the audio medium of literary elements including plot, theme, characters, mood, setting, or information presented
    • excellence in the appropriateness of technique or treatment to the story, theme, or concept.