“The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees” wins 2019 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/28/2019


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations



SEATTLE– The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees, by Don Brown and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been named the 2019 winner of the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award, the first national award that honors the best nonfiction books for teens. The award was presented today by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits held Jan. 25 – 29, in Seattle, Washington.

As Don Brown’s carefully researched text and ashen illustrations convey, Syria’s refugees are unwanted, across the globe. A prolific master of the nonfiction genre brings this most current story of an ongoing humanitarian crisis to the forefront, helping teen readers thoughtfully consider the consequences of totalitarianism and displacement.

“The Unwanted addresses our global society’s most immediate crisis in a matter-of-fact, explosive manner, eliciting reader empathy through textual and graphic descriptions of unimaginable violence and hardship” said YALSA Nonfiction Award Chair Reneé C. Lyons.

The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a Nov. 1 – Oct. 31 publishing year. Award winners are announced annually during the ALA’s Midwinter Meeting and Exhibits’ Youth Media Awards. The award will be presented to Don Brown at a reception on Monday, Jan. 28, from 10:30 a.m. – noon at the Sheraton Seattle in the Metropolitan Ballroom.

2019 YALSA Nonfiction Award finalists, which were announced in December, include:

  • “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 full list of official nominations for the award will be available online at www.ala.org/yalsa/nonfiction.

Members of the 2019 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults award committee are: Chair Reneé C. Lyons, associate professor, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tenn.; Anne Dame, teacher-librarian, Einstein Middle School, Shoreline, Wash.; Tamera DiBartolo, outreach/youth services coordinator, Rapides Parish Library, Alexandria, La.; Dr. Christina Dorr, school librarian/adjunct professor, Hilliard Weaver Middle School/Kent State University, Columbus, Ohio; Kathleen T. Isaacs, Pasadena, Md.; Jamie Naylor, youth services librarian, Jacaranda Public Library, Venice, Fla.; Sara Ortiz, program manager, Believer Magazine, Black Mountain Institute, Las Vegas; Dr. Joan Kindig, professor, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.; 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 www.ala.org/yalsa, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: yalsa@ala.org.

For more information on the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.