ALSC/Booklist/YALSA Odyssey Award

Eligibility & Criteria


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.
  • 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.
  • 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 18; works for this entire age range are to be considered. Adult titles are ineligible.
  • Audiobooks featuring single or full cast narration are eligible.
  • Audiobooks previously published in another country are eligible presuming they have also been distributed in the United States during the term of eligibility.
  • “In English” means only audiobooks produced in English are considered, 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, no award will be given that year.
  • The chair, with assistance from designated ALSC or YALSA staff, is responsible for verifying the eligibility of all nominated titles.
  • The award will be presented to the publisher[s] of the winning and/or honor audiobooks.

Odyssey Award Criteria

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, foreign 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.

Committee Resources

 Odyssey Award Manual (Word)

Odyssey Award Manual (PDF)

ALSC/YALSA Policy for Service on the Odyssey Committee (Word)

ALSC/YALSA Policy for Service on the Odyssey Committee (PDF)

Committee Information

Function: To annually select the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States, and to also select honor titles. 

Committee size:  9 members: 4 members appointed by ALSC; 4 appointed by YALSA; a chair whose appointment alternates between ALSC and YALSA, with a non-voting consultant from the staff of Booklist.

Term: Members serve a 16 month term commencing February 1st and ending June 30th the following year.

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.  All committee members must comply with YALSA's Policies, as presented in the online Handbook, including: Social Media Policy, Ethical Behavior Policy for Volunteers and the Award Committees Conflict of Interest Policy.

Publisher solicitation

  1. The Ethical Behavior Policy for Volunteers and the Award Committees Conflict of Interest Policy outline appropriate interactions between committee members and publishers.
  2. The chair and/or administrative assistant are responsible for contact with the publishers. 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.