For immediate release | December 12, 2018

2019 Nonfiction Award finalists announced

CHICAGO — The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), selected five books as finalists for the 2019 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award, which honors the best nonfiction books written for young adults between Nov. 1, 2017 and Oct. 31, 2018. YALSA will name the 2019 award winner at the Youth Media Awards on January 28, 2019, in Seattle during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting.

The 2019 finalists are:

  • “The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor” written by Sonia Sotomayor and published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House

  • “Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam” written by Elizabeth Partridge and published by Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House

  • “The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler” written and illustrated by John Hendrix and published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS

  • “Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction” written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic

  • “The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees” written and illustrated by Don Brown and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

“This year’s finalists are truly works of art,” shared Chair Renee’ Lyons, “as they encompass all creative outlets – exceptional narrative, graphics and illustration, photography, and ground-breaking research efforts. The Unwanted re-imagines the plight of Syrian refugees via explosive, sandy illustrations and compelling dialogue. The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor recounts, in a true storyteller’s voice, the no-holds-barred childhood experiences of an admired Supreme Court Justice, while Boots on the Ground expertly combines stellar sources, first-hand interviews and historical images, to personalize the tragedy of the Vietnam War. Two finalists explore personal and social maladies, respectively addiction (Hey, Kiddo) and tyranny (The Faithful Spy), via the channel of impeccable artistic design. Yet, behind all this ingenuity, in each book selected by our committee, is a profound, life-altering story of hope in the face of unparalled challenges.”

Annotations and more information on the finalists and the award can be found on the Nonfiction Award page. Publishers and library staff can purchase finalist seals to place on the finalist titles at Those that are unable to attend Midwinter can watch the Youth Media Awards live on January 28th at 8am PT online at: For more information on the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit

YALSA will host a reception honoring the finalists and the winner, as well as YALSA’s Morris Award finalists and winner, at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting on January 28 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Sheraton Seattle in the Metropolitan Ballroom. See a full list of YALSA’s events and programs at the Midwinter Meeting on YALSA’s Midwinter wiki page.

Learn more about YALSA’s portfolio of book and media awards, which helps strengthen library services for and with teens by identifying quality, age appropriate resources for librarians and library workers to share with the teens in their communities, at

Members of the 2019 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award committee are: Chair Renee’ C. Lyons, Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee; Anne Dame, School Librarian, Einstein Middle School, Shoreline, Washington; Tamera Di Bartolo, Outreach/Youth Services Coordinator, Rapides Parish Library, Alexandria, Louisiana; Dr. Christina Dorr, School Librarian/Adjunct Professor, Hilliard Weaver Middle School/Kent State University, Columbus, Ohio; Kathy Issacs, Pasadena, Maryland; Jamie Naylor, Youth Services Librarian, Jacaranda Public Library, Venice, Florida; Sara Ortiz, Program Manager, Believer Magazine, Black Mountain Institute, Las Vegas, Nevada; Dr. Joan Kindig, Associate Professor, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia; and Maggie Reagan, Booklist Consultant, Chicago, Illinois.

The mission of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives. For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources go to, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail:

Related Links

2019 Nonfiction Award finalists Artwork


Nichole O'Connor

Program Officer for Events & Conferences