Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee Policies and Procedures


YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee 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.


YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) Committee evolved from a committee established under the School Libraries Section of ALA, which was charged with producing a list of 1930s "Best Books for Young People."  The committee has undergone several changes of focus and names over the years, including the Book Selection Committee (1954), and later the Committee for the Selection of Significant Adult Books for Young People (1963). It became the Best Books for Young Adults Committee (BBYA) in 1966. As publishing for the young adult market grew exponentially (over 2,000 titles per year in 2008) and seven other YALSA selection and award lists for young adults were created since its inception, Best Books for Young Adults was restructured and named Best Fiction for Young Adults by the YALSA Board of Directors at the midwinter meeting in 2010.   

Committee Function Statement

What this committee does

YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee selects significant fiction books (not including graphic novels) published for young adults and annotates the selected titles.


The list is prepared for librarians to use with young adults and annotations will be written to attract the teen reader. It is a general list of fiction titles selected for their demonstrable or probable appeal to the personal reading tastes of the young adult. Such titles should incorporate acceptable literary quality and effectiveness of presentation. Standard selection criteria consistent with ALA’s Library Bill of Rights shall be applied.

Frequency of list

The Best Fiction for Young Adults selection list will be produced annually. In addition, a list of officially nominated titles will be shared with the young adult library community each month through YALSA's communication channels.

Committee Makeup

How many members, length of term, etc.

Committee members, including administrative assistants and chairs, are appointed by YALSA's President-Elect and serve a term of one year. Committee members may be selected to serve a concurrent, second one-year term based on the member's first year performance and his/her interest and availability in serving another year, for a total of a two-year maximum concurrent term length on the committee. There are 15 voting committee members, including the chair. Members will be appointed on a staggered basis so that the ideal committee will have new members appointed each year. Each term begins at the conclusion of one Midwinter and ends at the conclusion of Midwinter at the end of the term. Members who have served two consecutive years may not be appointed to the committee for three years from the conclusion of their last term. If someone resigns, the current President of YALSA appoints a new person to finish out that particular term. Reappointment is not automatic, but instead is based upon participation. Any individual who wishes to be appointed for a second year must fill out a Selection Committee Volunteer Form the summer prior to their desired reappointment.


Members who have served two consecutive years as a member and/or administrative assistant may not be appointed to the same committee for three years from the conclusion of their last term. This guideline will not apply to the Chair.  In extreme circumstances, and at the President’s discretion, an exception may be made if a committee member resigns suddenly.  The President, after discussion with the Committee Chair, may determine that the best course of action is to fill the vacancy with an experienced committee member, and appoint a member in good standing who successfully served on the committee in question during the previous three years.

Responsibilities of regular committee positions

Members are required to attend all committee meetings and read widely from books eligible for nomination.  Additional information about committee member responsibilities is available from YALSA’s Handbook.

Special positions within Committee

In addition to the chair and 14 personal committee members, the Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee can also include an administrative assistant and a Booklist consultant.

Responsibilities of special positions

  1. A committee chair is appointed by YALSA's President-Elect for a one-year term; and, as such, has the right to vote, to validate titles (by a vote) for consideration on the list and to enter into discussion of titles. It should be understood, however, that the primary responsibility of the chair is facilitator of the committee's charge, including all business matters. The chair should only discuss a title after other committee members have had an opportunity to speak so as not to unduly influence the decision. Furthermore, the chair and his/her administrative assistant have sole responsibility for publisher contact. An administrative assistant will be named by the committee chair in consultation with the President-Elect of YALSA.
  2. The administrative assistant will assist the chair in duties which may include the following: maintaining the nominations' database, tabulating votes and other such duties assigned by the chair. The administrative assistant is a non-voting member of the committee.
  3. Booklist will designate a member of their staff to serve as a consultant, who is a nonvoting member of the committee.
  4. YALSA’s Program Officer for Conference & Events serves as a staff liaison to this committee.

Title Acquisition and Eligibility

How titles are acquired

While YALSA's BFYA Committee may receive books from publishers, it is the committee’s responsibility to look more widely. Members must make every effort to seek out eligible titles to consider. Other ways to obtain eligible titles include but are not limited to:

  1. Picking up galleys at Midwinter and Annual ALA meetings and at other conferences.
  2. Examining review copies received in the work place.
  3. Browsing new titles at bookstores.
  4. Borrowing books on interlibrary loan.
  5. Sharing books among members by mail.

What makes a title eligible or ineligible

The BFYA Committee considers any fiction title published for a teen audience from September 1 of the previous calendar year through December 31 of the current calendar year. The chair is responsible for verifying the eligibility of all nominated titles. A book originally published outside the United States will be considered according to its U.S. publication year. Books published outside of the United States are not eligible unless a U.S. edition is available.  Titles that are self-published, published only in eBook format, and/or published from a publisher outside of the US will not be considered eligible until the first year the book is available in print or distributed through a US publishing house.

A work of fiction is defined as: a novel in prose or verse with one or more authors, or a collection of short prose or verse by one or more authors

Publisher solicitation

  1. All committee members must comply with YALSA’s Awards Committee Conflict of Interest Policy. The chair and/or administrative assistant are responsible for contact with the publishers.
  2. Committee members must not solicit publishers for free personal copies of books. If members receive, or are offered, unsolicited copies of books from publishers, they may accept the titles.
  3. Committee members must not solicit publishers for favors, invitations, etc. If members receive these, however, they will use their own judgment in accepting. Publishers understand that such acceptance in no way influences members’ actions or selections.

Suggested selection criteria

“Best” is defined as: of the highest quality, excellence, or standing. As applied to teen fiction, this means that YALSA's BFYA Committee looks for outstanding titles of fiction that are of interest and value to teenagers.
Suggested selection criteria:

  1. Titles are selected for their demonstrated or probable appeal to the personal reading tastes of young adults
  2. Appeal and popularity are not synonymous
  3. Titles from a series should be considered on their individual merits

In addition to the question of appeal, committee members should consider the following
when assessing titles: language, plot, style, setting, dialog, characterization, and design

Creation of the List

Nominating procedures

Deadlines for nominations

Nominations may be accepted from the field up to November 1 of that calendar year.

How nominations are solicited

Anyone can nominate titles for YALSA’s lists and awards. Nomination forms are available on the YALSA web site at (select an award or list and then select the “Nominate a title” link).

Nominations from authors or publishers for their own titles are not eligible for the list.

Field nominations

Field nominations, which are nominations that come from someone who is not a member of the committee, require a second from a BFYA committee member. The chair informs the committee of field nominations, which remain active until all nominations are closed. If no committee member seconds the field nomination, the title is dropped from consideration.

Availability of nominations

The committee will consider and vote on books published within their assigned calendar year, January 1 to December 31, in addition to those published between September 1 and December 31 of the previous year.

Voting procedures

Final selections are made at the Midwinter Meeting during a series of meetings. After observer comments, the chair will provide each book's nominator with the first opportunity to address that title if he/she desires. After comments and committee discussion are completed, a vote is taken to determine if a title should be included on the final list.

Procedures for final votes

A book must receive a minimum of 9 "yes" votes to be placed on the final list regardless of the number of the 15-member committee present and voting. Only members attending the Midwinter meeting will be allowed to vote. Members can only vote on books they have read. If a committee member must leave before the final vote, that member must give a signed ballot to the chair who will then designate a voting proxy for the absent member. The final vote will be counted by an individual designated by the chair.


After the final discussion and selection, titles are then annotated by the committee. These annotations must be completed at the last meeting of the committee. Annotations will be written to attract the teen reader.


The annotated list is disseminated each January. Nominations will be updated monthly and will be made available via YALSA communication channels such as the YALSA web site, YALSA-BK, and the YALSA blog. The final list of nominations will be available after November 1. The complete and final annotated list will be available each year shortly after the close of ALA's Midwinter Meeting.

Following its last meeting the committee will provide the YALSA Office with the final annotated list of selected titles. The final annotated list will be made available on the YALSA website and will also appear in a spring issue of Booklist. YALSA will include the final BFYA list in its annual Best of the Best for Young Adults compilation of selection and award titles for young adults.

Outside Participation at Meetings

Observer guidelines

  1. All committee meetings will be open to registered conference attendees. Before the committee discusses each suggested title, an opportunity will be given to observers to make short comments about the books (two minutes or less per observer, with the exception of the special teen session) but the chair reserves the right to cut short the discussion if necessary. Publishers’ representatives are requested to refrain from participating in discussion or asking for comments about their own books.
  2. Local teens are invited to participate in BFYA meetings when arrangements for that participation have been made with YALSA’s Youth Participation Coordinator and the chair prior to the meeting in which they attend. Committee members are welcome throughout the year to get teen feedback on materials and bring that feedback to face-to-face meetings and online discussions.


There will be no announcements of final selections until after the final committee meeting at the ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Use of the List

Use and Reproduction

YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults list may be reproduced under "fair use" standards. As stated in Section 107 of The Copyright Act of 1976, factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

Sample citation

YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee. "2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults."
Young Adult Library Services Association.[insert dater published on the web]. Young Adult Library Services Association, Web. [insert date accessed by user]. <>.

For more information about acceptable use of YALSA's lists of recommended reading, and/or to request permission to reproduce the list, please contact ALA's Rights and Permission Manager at

Committee Specific Information



Last revision, March, 2013.  These procedures are subject to review and possible revision by the YALSA Board of Directors.