ALSC/Booklist/YALSA Odyssey Award

Definition

The Odyssey Award recognizes the best audiobook production for youth in a given year.

Purpose

The award will:

  • Recognize the best in the field of audiobooks for youth
  • Promote the growing number of books published for young adults
  • Inspire wider readership in the genre
  • Give recognition to the importance of the genre
  • Position ALSC and YALSA as an authority in the field of evaluating and selecting materials for teen library collections

Policies and Procedures

Members

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, with 4 members appointed by ALSC and 4 appointed by YALSA; chair whose appointment alternates between ALSC and YALSA; a non-voting consultant from the staff Booklist. Members serve a 16 month term commencing February 1st and ending June 30th the following year.

All members are required to attend all Odyssey Committee meetings held during the selection process. In the event a member is unable to complete her/his term, the President of the Association, in consultation with the Chair and the YALSA staff liaison, shall appoint a qualified replacement.

The chair is a voting member of the committee with all the rights and responsibilities of other members. In addition, the chair presides at all meetings of the committee and serves as a facilitator of both discussion and committee business. As such, the chair must serve as a list owner of an electronic discussion list created through the YALSA office solely for use by the committee, and take responsibility for list maintenance.

If the chair desires, the Vice President/President-Elect of YALSA may appoint an administrative assistant in consultation with the committee chair. The administrative assistant will assist the chair in duties that may include the following: contacting publishers on behalf of the chair/committee, maintaining the database of nominations, tabulating votes, and other such duties assigned by the chair. The administrative assistant is a non-voting member of the committee, and must be a YALSA member.

The Editor/Publisher of Booklist magazine, the Odyssey Award's sponsor, will appoint a consultant to the Committee from among the magazine's Books for Youth staff. This consultant may participate fully in all book discussions but may not participate in voting.

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.

Eligibility

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.

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.

Confidentiality

As all nominated titles must be kept confidential, there will be no announcements of nominated titles. All committee meetings and discussions, including electronic discussions, are closed to YALSA membership and the general public.

Nominations

Committee members may nominate an unlimited number of titles. However, each nomination must be made in writing on an official nomination form. Each nomination should include the following information: author, title, publisher, price, ISBN, and an annotation specifying those qualities that justify the title for consideration. Nominations from committee members need no second.

Field Suggestions

Field suggestions are encouraged. To be eligible, they must be submitted on the official suggestion form. All field suggestions must then be seconded by a committee member, and periodically the chair will send a list of field suggestions to committee members for this purpose. If, within thirty days, no second is forthcoming, the title will be dropped from consideration. Only those titles that have been nominated (and seconded if field suggestions) may be discussed at Midwinter and Annual Conference meetings. Furthermore, all nominated titles must be discussed. Publishers, authors, or editors may not suggest or nominate their own titles.

Sponsor

Booklist magazine is the sponsor of this award.

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.

Annotations and Press Release

The committee is responsible for writing a press release and annotations for the winning title and honor books. Both the annotations and the press release will include discussion of the literary merits of the titles. The annotations and press release must be written prior to the Monday awards press conference.

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.