For immediate release | January 26, 2012

Cabaj wins YALSA’s MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens

DALLAS - The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) awarded Allison Cabaj the 2012 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens. The MAE Award provides $500 to the recipient and $500 to the recipient’s library and is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust.

Cabaj, a library and media specialist and English teacher, created a program that brought together reading and technology at the Riverside Brookfield (Ill.) High School.With dual goals of wanting “to create a digital presence that students and teachers can visit outside of school time,” along with building “an interactive community of readers” Cabaj purchased multiple copies of The Abraham Lincoln Award: Illinois’ High School Readers’ Choice Award in both traditional book and e-book formats. Then Cabaj built a blog and created a contest where the whole school could come together to talk about these specific books. Teens were invited to participate through pamphlets, signs, announcements and by peer recommendations. The students who signed up were invited to a kick-off breakfast where they could have their picture taken with a life-sized cutout of Abraham Lincoln, eat breakfast and recommend books for next year’s Abe list.

With all of the Abe books checked out in both paper and electronic formats and additional books found through interlibrary loan, it is not surprising that more than 50 students and six staff members are not only reading but discussing The Abraham Lincoln Award books both online and at school with teachers and other students. An added bonus is that the blog has helped many students and teachers feel more comfortable with web 2.0 tools.

“There is a buzz around this contest and these books that is exciting and endearing at the same time,” explained Cabaj in her winning application. “This program has been valuable because students are reading, but more so because they are not reading in isolation. They are discussing the books, and these discussions are meaningful both online and in person.”

“It is exciting to see that this program not only created a school-wide discussion of literature, it created an online space where the discussion could be continued after participants left school,” said Joella Peterson, chair of the MAE Award. “Our committee was impressed with the amount of excitement that came from not only having great literature to read, but having groups and places where students could explore various Web 2.0 tools while continuing to discuss that great literature and pull their friends into that discussion. It’s the perfect way to create life-long readers!”

The 2012 YALSA MAE Award Jury members are Joella Peterson, chair, Tumwater (Wash.) Timberland Regional Library; Courtney Lewis, Wyoming Seminary Upper School, Kingston, Pa.; Mary Seymour, George Fox Middle School, Pasadena, Md.; Louisa Marie Storer, New York Public Library; and Katrina Yurenka, Dr. Franklin Perkins School, Lancaster, Mass.

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos and audiobooks for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to, or contact the YALSA office by phone, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390, or e-mail,

Cabaj wins YALSA’s MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens

Related Links

YALSA Member Awards and Grants

MAE Award

Margaret A. Edwards Trust


Jaclyn Finneke

Marketing & Communications Specialist

Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)