YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults


An award for the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a Nov. 1 – Oct. 31 publishing year.


The award will:

  • Recognize the best in the field of nonfiction books (at this time, only books will be considered for the award) materials for young adults
  • Promote the growing number of nonfiction books published for young adults
  • Inspire wider readership in the genre
  • Give recognition to the importance of the genre
  • Position YALSA as an authority in the field of nonfiction for young adults

Policies and Procedures


To annually select the best nonfiction title published for young adults between Nov. 1 and Oct. 31 of the current year, available in English in the United States and, if desired, to also select honor titles. The short list of finalists will be announced during the first week of December, with the winning title announced at the following ALA Midwinter Meeting. The winners and honor authors will be recognized at an ALA or YALSA Conference.

Committee Members

The Committee shall consist of a chair, eight members, a Booklist consultant, and an administrative assistant if the Chair requests. The Chair and members will be appointed by the President-Elect of YALSA. T

Members serve a twelve month term, with the term to begin February 1 of the following year. Committee members will consider and read titles published beginning November 1 of the year they are appointed. The announcement of winners will take place at the Midwinter fifteen months from that point.

All members are required to attend all Award Committee meetings held during the selection process. In the event a member is unable to complete her/his term, the President of YALSA shall appoint a replacement from among qualified YALSA members.

The chair is a voting member of the committee with all the rights and responsibilities of other members. In addition, the chair presides at all meetings of the committee and serves as a facilitator of both discussion and committee business. As such, the chair must serve as a list owner of an electronic discussion list created through the YALSA office solely for use by the committee, and take responsibility for list maintenance. The chair is also encouraged to attend the ALA Conference and/or any YALSA event where the Award winner will be honored.

If the chair desires, the Vice President/President-Elect of YALSA may appoint an administrative assistant in consultation with the committee chair. The administrative assistant will assist the chair in duties that may include the following: contacting publishers on behalf of the chair/committee, maintaining the database of nominations, tabulating votes, and other such duties assigned by the chair. The administrative assistant is a non-voting member of the committee, and must be a YALSA member.

Committee members, including administrative assistants and chairs, who have completed one full term on any of YALSA’s six award committees may not be appointed to the same or another YALSA award committee for two years from the conclusion of their term. In extreme circumstances, and at the President’s discretion, an exception may be made if a committee member resigns suddenly or if there is a shortage of qualified candidates for positions. The President, after discussion with the Executive Director and Committee Chair, may determine that the best course of action is to appoint a member regardless of his/her recent committee service history.

Responsibilities of regular committee positions

Members are required to attend all committee meetings and read widely from books eligible for nomination. Additional information about committee member responsibilities is available from YALSA's Handbook. All committee members must comply with YALSA's Policies, as presented in the online Handbook, including: Social Media Policy, Ethical Behavior Policy for Volunteers and the Award Committees Conflict of Interest Policy.

Committee Calendar

YALSA Committee Calendar


Committee term begins February 1, members can begin reading prior to receiving books from publishers by using their local library.

March, April, May

Committee reads, suggests and discusses titles. Chair asks for up to three nominations from each member from the suggested titles list to discuss at Annual.


Committee meets and discusses nominated titles at Annual.

President-Elect makes appointments for new committee.

July, August, September, October

Committee reads, suggests and discusses titles [keeping in mind that only one book will be the winner]. Committee continues to nominate titles.


Nominations close.

Up to three nominated titles from committee members sent to chair; list compiled and sent back to committee.

Mid- November

Conference call held to discuss nominated titles

Late November

Conference call to vote on short list

First week in December

Publish annotated short list

ALA Midwinter Meeting

Decide on winner, which will be announced at the Youth Media Awards Press Conference. The entire list of committee nominated titles will be released at this time as well.


The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults shall be awarded annually to the best nonfiction title published for young adults during the preceding Nov. 1 – Oct. 31 year. The Award will be given to a title that honors a work for subject, treatment and accessibility to young adults.

  • All print forms of nonfiction are eligible for consideration, including graphic formats.
  • The title must have been designated by its publisher as intended for young adults who are defined as persons between the ages of twelve and including eighteen.
  • The title must include excellent writing, research, presentation and readability for young adults.
  • Titles from a series may be considered on their individual merits.
  • Titles that are self-published, published only in eBook format, and/or published from a publisher outside of the US will not be considered eligible until the first year the book is available in print or distributed through a US publishing house.
  • If no title is deemed sufficiently meritorious, no award will be given that year.
  • The chair, with assistance from designated YALSA staff, is responsible for verifying the eligibility of all nominated titles.
  • The award will be presented to the author(s) of the winning and honor titles at a ceremony at an ALA or YALSA conference.


There will be no announcements of nominated titles until the announcement of the finalist titles in early December. When the winning title and honor titles are announced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, the list of nominated titles will be published as well


Committee members suggest titles beginning in February after their or appointment, with suggestions due each month through the end of the time period. Committee members are responsible for nominating titles throughout the process. Following this procedure allows committee members to reflect on what their peers consider to be award-worthy titles and narrows the list, leading to more efficient and productive meetings.

Each suggestion must be in writing on an official online suggestion form. Each suggestion must include the following information: author, title, publisher, price, ISBN and publication date.

Field Suggestions

Field suggestions are encouraged. To be eligible, they must be submitted on the official suggestion form. The form will allow for both a rationale and summary of nominated titles. Committee members will be notified of all field suggestions, which are eligible to be considered for nomination by members. Nominated titles must also have a second from a committee member. Only those titles that have been nominated will be discussed at Midwinter and Annual Conference meetings, as well as phone meetings, though a committee member may request that a suggested title be moved to the discussion list and thus treated as a nominated title. Furthermore, all nominated titles must be discussed. To prevent a conflict of interest, publishers, authors, or editors may not nominate titles in which they have a vested interest.

Voting Procedures

Following discussion at Annual, balloting will begin. Members must be present to vote. Proxies will not be accepted. Additional titles nominated after this point will be considered in the final voting conference calls between October 31 – early December.

Final Voting of Award Title

  • Oral ballots will be used and tallied either by the chair or her/his designee(s).
  • Members are reminded that, at this point, they are voting for the winner, NOT for honor titles.
  • On the ballot each member votes for her/his top three choices. First choice receives five points; second choice receives three points, and third choice receives one point. To win, a title must receive five first place votes and must also receive at least five more points than the second place title. If no title meets these criteria on the first ballot, any title receiving no votes is removed from consideration and a period of discussion of remaining titles follows. A second ballot is then conducted. Balloting continues in this fashion until a winner is declared.

Honor Title(s)

A short list of up to five Finalists will be announced the first week in December, with the winner announced during the following Midwinter Conference in January. The remaining maximum of four titles will then be considered Honor Titles.

Annotations and Press Release

The committee is responsible for writing a press release and annotations for the winning title and honor books. Both the annotations and the press release will include discussion of the literary merits of the titles. The annotations and press release must be written prior to the Monday awards press conference.

Publisher solicitation

  1. The Ethical Behavior Policy for Volunteers and the Award Committees Conflict of Interest Policy outline appropriate interactions between committee members and publishers.
  2. The chair and/or administrative assistant are responsible for contact with the publishers. Committee members must not solicit publishers for free personal copies of books. If members receive, or are offered, unsolicited copies of books from publishers, they may accept the titles.
  3. Committee members must not solicit publishers for favors, invitations, etc. If members receive these, however, they will use their own judgment in accepting. Publishers understand that such acceptance in no way influences members' actions or selections.

Last revision, March 2013. These procedures are subject to review and possible revision by the Organizations and Bylaws committee with final approval by the YALSA Board of Directors.