YALSA President Paula Brehm-Heeger Responds to Edwards Award Criticism

The following statement was released by YALSA President Paula Brehm-Heeger in response to criticism following the announcement of YALSA’s 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award. The 2008 award honors Orson Scott Card for his enduring novels “Ender’s Game” and “Ender’s Shadow.”

“Since the announcement on Jan. 14, 2008, that the 2008 recipient of YALSA’s Margaret A. Edwards Award is Orson Scott Card for his novels ‘Ender’s Shadow’ and ‘Ender’s Game,’ various media sources have criticized YALSA for honoring Mr. Card with an award due to his personal beliefs.”

“First and foremost, we unequivocally support the Edwards Committee’s decision to give the award to Mr. Card for 'Ender’s Game' and 'Ender’s Shadow.' Further, we would like to clarify the scope and purpose of the Edwards Award.”

“The Edwards Award is not a lifetime achievement award given to an author for the complete body of his or her work. Instead, the award honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. It also recognizes an author's work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world.”

“Additionally, it seems the role of specific works in the Edwards Award have been ignored or misconstrued by some media sources. The Edwards Award Committee is given specific terms under which they must evaluate potential honorees. All of these criteria specifically engage the author’s books—not the author. The works for which Orson Scott Card was honored for—'Ender’s Game' and 'Ender’s Shadow'—more than meet those criteria. It should also be noted that an author’s personal beliefs are not something the award committee considers.”

“Individuals and media interested in learning more about the Edwards Award, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, are encouraged to visit www.ala.org/yalsa/edwards.”