Best Books for Young Adults Policies and Procedures


To select from the year's publications, significant adult and young adult books; to annotate the selected titles.

Purpose of the List

The list presents books published in the past 16 months that are recommended reading for young adults 12 to 18.

It is a general list of fiction and nonfiction titles selected for their proven or potential appeal to the personal reading tastes of the young adult.

Such titles should incorporate acceptable literary quality and effectiveness of presentation. Standard selection criteria consonant with the Library Bill of Rights shall be applied.

Librarianship focuses on individuals, in all their diversity, and that focus is a fundamental value of the Young Adult Library Services Association and its members. Diversity is, thus, honored in the Association and in the collections and services that libraries provide to young adults.

Fiction should have characterization and dialog believable within the context of the novel or story.

Nonfiction should have an appealing format and a readable text. Although the list attempts to present a variety of reading tastes and levels, no effort will be made to balance the list according to subject or area of interest.

Target Audience

The list is prepared for the use of young adults themselves and annotations will be written to attract the YA reader.

Eligibility Time Frame

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

Field nominations require a second from a BBYA committee member. Nominations must be submitted on the official form, which is available on the YALSA web site or from the YALSA office or the current chair.

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.

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

Discussing the List

After observer comments, the Chair will provide each book's nominator with the first opportunity to address that title if he/she so desires.

Committee Members

Members are appointed by the Vice-President/President-Elect of YALSA for a one-year term, renewable for a one-year consecutive term. Members are expected to attend all committee meetings and read widely from books eligible for nomination. Reappointment is not automatic, but instead is based upon participation.

Members will be appointed on a staggered basis so that the ideal committee will have five new members appointed each year. Each terms 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 terms may not be reappointed to the Committee for 5 years from the conclusion of their last term.

If someone resigns, the current President of the Association appoints a new person to fill that particular term.

There are 15 personal committee members. The editor of the "Books for Youth" section of Booklist, or Booklist's designee, is a non-voting member of the committee and serves as an advisor.


The Chair is appointed by the Vice-President/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 has sole responsibility for publisher contact.

An administrative assistant will be appointed in consultation with the Committee Chair by the Vice President/President-Elect of YALSA. 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.

Voting Procedures

Final selections are made at the Midwinter Meeting during an intensive series of meetings. After comments from observers and discussion by committee members, a vote is taken to determine if a title should be included on the final list.

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 designate a voting proxy for the absent member. The final vote will be counted by the Advisor and the Administrative Assistant.

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.

Michael L. Printz Award Titles

In June 2002, the YALSA Board voted to include all Michael L. Printz Award titles, including Honor titles, on the Best Books for Young Adults Committee final list of selected titles for their respective year. The Michael L. Printz Award Committee must provide titles, draft annotations and bibliographic information to the Best Books Committee immediately after they have been announced at the ALA Press Conference during the Midwinter Meeting. If the Committee has not already included these titles in the final list, they must do so before the list is provided to the ALA Public Information office as specified below.

Availability of Lists for General Distribution

The list of nominations will be updated monthly. The cumulative list will be available electronically on YALSA-BK on a monthly basis. The final list of nominations will be available after November 1.

Following its last meeting, the committee will provide the ALA Public Information Office with the final list of selected titles. PIO will make the full list available as a press release. The press release will be posted on YALSA-L, and also made available on the YALSA web site at The list will also appear in a spring issue of Booklist and the ALA publication ALA's Guide to Best Reading.

Comments from Observers

All Committee meetings will be open to ALA members and persons with guest badges. Persons with guest badges may speak if recognized by the chair.

Guidelines for observers are:

  1. 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.
  2. Publisher's representatives are requested to refrain from participating in discussion or asking for comments about their own books.

Approved by YALSA Board, July 1991. Revised by YALSA Board, June 1994, June 2002, June 2003, August 2009.